Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Links and Longing

Running is Just Not a Sport

I came across this video right before typing this blog post, but it fits the theme in my head perfectly.. more on that in a moment.

First a few running links from the week:

The Often Forgotten Group: The Sub Elites - Also known as the Bootleggers Running Club

Garmin Forerunner 220 In-Depth Reviews - If I shell out for a GPS watch, I would go for this one just due to the lower price point than..

Garmin Forerunner 620 In-Depth Review - This is a sexy beast, but just too expensive.

Okay so maybe not that many links, but like you were going to click each one?

Question: What are your favorite podcasts? I'm currently tracking Kevin Smith, NPR Stuff, Radio Lab. Science... Sort Of.., and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

This next portion is more of just a mental exploration for me and geting it down in writing.  It is not an uplifting piece, advice, or even funny, it is just me exploring me at this moment in time. So feel free to skip this section as it won't be very useful or even interesting to 98% of you and probably make 99.9% of you roll your eyes. Just highlight the text if you want to read it. Otherwise, scroll down to the gif!

I've mentioned in various posts how running is much more than an exercise to me, running is often my refuge, my outlet, my "me time", my community, my hobby, my sugar that makes my coffee start my day.

I've complained, mopped around, I dramatize it, but logically I know it is just a short blip of time (I hope) and honestly ANGAF. I can still use the gym to hit the bike and lift. I'll probably be back running before I know it and look back to how big of a baby I am. But this post isn't about that, it's about this moment in time and examining the why.

Since becoming a father and having a family unit that redefines your life, it is easy to forget your prior identity and to make time that is for yourself. And when you do, you can feel guilty and selfish doing it. You think, is holding onto this unhealthy? Am I just not moving forward and accepting the new? But the the urges stay there to find your time to focus on anything you want to, be it everything or nothing.  To be in control of your environment. I used to be big into tech and games, stay up late playing online,  dig into the forums and that was my thing. Now, duh, it is running

And that is my current issue. Running does so much for me, I don't consider it exercise. It became engraved as a need. Many of you can relate on feeling cranky if you miss your run. It is similar to that, just amplified a few fold.  I'm generally pretty patient, but after the time off from the marathon, and now the time off from trying to heal up, I can feel the build up. I can't pin it on tension, emotions, factors during my day, or events as honestly, nothing bad is happening, nobody is being rude to me, and my family is great. Am I just missing the high? More than that. I'm missing that time I had where I reflected on my identity. The time of the day I could rely on to be for me,  know I was doing what I wanted, and do it guilt free as I don't have to neglect anyone else for that time frame. It sets me up for the day, so that no matter what I can look back and say, I at least had that time today, I can't complain.

Well now I don't have that for extended time and I just don't feel proper. The commute to and fromwork, try to make that my time? Nope, read or listen to music/podcasts. Those distractions are just to make the time go by faster in an environment that doesn't exactly scream, find your zen. I'm trying out a new book soon, maybe that will help. 

I can watch some TV or a sports game, but as my wife will testify to, once I actual try to follow or focus on a show (or anything), I become very boxed off and not very social (unless of course you are screaming at the game with me). So that is a hard activity to count as down time or me time, (just like Sauron, who does not share power) as I either am being annoying by not paying attention to my family or being annoying in how I share my attention with my family.

Then there is my time at the gym. I'm sorry, but weights and stationary biking  just don't do it. Not even close. The gym is just exercise. There is no self exploration, losing yourself, pushing yourself harder, testing yourself. Weights is a slow progression, I'm either going to be able to finish that third set of 15lb weights or I won't. That last set you either hit failure or you do it. This has nothing on running, where you can keep digging deep, be it for 400 meters or 4 miles. That time you spend soul searching to go is amazing. Having it cut down to just a few moments of grunting is unsatisfactory to me. That said, I am glad to at least have weekday access to a full gym and exercise, but that isn't the point of this post. The point is to find why my balance is off and if it is indicative of something greater.

I definitely miss actually being with my running friends (can I scratch out running and say friends? I think that is a stronger term), and seeing everyone still at it, races, events, I get a bit down not being able to be there too. Now not all of this is due to not running, family wise, my wife and child always come first, so missing events isn't new. It isn't like I'm excluded from anything, I'm actually included in it all, it is more like just waving the bus to skip your stop.

Every day I feel a bit more.. aggressive. A bit more of a bite itching to surge out with my actions. A little more negativity lingering in the background.  I feel mentally displaced.  I'm very aware of the dark tides breaking on my mental shores. I'm also very aware that everything else is good, that I have no reactionary reason to be internally raging against the machine.  I feel blessed to have a supportive job, a wonderful family, and be part of a great running community. All signs say, oh get the F over your lincoln park moodiness, ain't nothing crawling in your skin, and your legs they will heal.


All logical signs say I should be singing in the rain and smiles. I'm not saying I'm a depressed crank all day, I'm not. I'm just saying, I am looking off the shores at what is surging and am trying to ward it off and see what is causing the waves. 

Is running that much of a life enhancer to me? A necessity, a drug? Is it a placeholder for whatever me time/hobby I currently use to keep me fully balanced? Probably. And honestly, I don't know what else could replace it anymore for me. I don't see myself waking up at 3something am to play video games, crotchet, or perfect a secret BBQ sauce. Bikram Yoga can come close, but that is even a bigger time sink and more costly, so a no go for me.

So for now, build up those mental sand bags filled with logic and facts, and not block out all the positives life has given me... Although if you see me turn green, it means the sand bags broke and I am now the incredible hulk.

---End ---
You didn't actually read that did you?
  If so:

If not, good job! it was really boring. Happy Friday Eve! Any big plans or activities today or tomorrow that I should keep a lookout for?


  1. I read it but I don't think drinking a handle of vodka at work would be appropriate... In some ways I can relate to how you're feeling. I had a stretch of injuries a year and a half ago that took me out for over a month and I was miserable. I actually started running 8ish years ago to stay in shape but its become so much more than that, I hardly even think of running as "working out" anymore. Two things that really helped me get through being injured were creating an extensive cross training schedule so I didn't even have to think about what exercise I was going to do (spinning, swimming, elliptical, etc) and planning my next racing season. I wouldn't recommend signing up for anything, but see what races are out there that you might want to do, put them on your calendar, and then create training plans. I always felt better doing that because I was still doing running-related things.

    The Garmin Forerunner 620 is so pretty...

  2. Pete B lakefronttrail.blogspotNovember 7, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    I really liked the first 10 seconds of the top video. The slowly swelling music accompanied by the sight of scores of wiped out runners valiantly trudging through spent paper cups at the aid station was spine tingling. The rest of the video was a letdown after that. :) As for the text we didn't have to read (aka the text that made me see spots after I was done), I couldn't sympathize with you more. Heck I've been sick the last two and it has been brutal holding myself back from running. Although I know it is the best thing for me to stop running (even though the cold is above the neck), it still stings. I guess we both need to take long-term perspectives on our running. There will be peaks (PRs, marathons) and valleys (injuries, colds, life-events) in our lifetimes of running. Maybe pull the lens a little further back and make a five year running plan and in that plan, besides the 16 weeks in a row of non-top running, sprinkle in three weeks off here and maybe four weeks off there. Over the course of five years that time that we spend off of our feet look like tiny dots on that map. When I feel better let's go grab a drink or a sausage with the BRC or WRCE and swap stories.

  3. I can relate... Although I am in a funk right now... not sure of the cause of it either...

    The whole not being able to run thing is a killer. Especially if you feel like you have been finally making good progress only to be sidelined. At least that is how I feel when I need to take a break.

    But I agree with Pete - Drinks and Sausages sounds like a good idea

  4. Kelsey @ Fueling StrongNovember 7, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I read it and i can relate. When I see other people running I get mad at them and even mumble under my breath "please don't run in front of me." I trust that this injury stint will be over before you know it, and you will only grow from this. Let's just be thankful that you weren't sidelined for the marathon. There are up sides:)

  5. First, I'm always up for a drink and/or sausage with you and Pete. Duh.

    Second, my favorite podcast is Comedy BangBang (formerly Comedy Deathray). It's way funnier than the TV show, and also pretty ridiculous. You may also like Dead Authors podcast (if you're into reading? I have no idea) and How Did This Get Made? The latter is Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas talking about how bad movies get made.

    Last, thanks for elaborating on what you're going through right now. I think it's easy for non-runners, or people who don't otherwise get it, to brush it off as you just being bummed that you can't run and not realizing all of the many, many implications that really carries with it. I've always thought it was so awesome that you found a way to make running work with your family life and job in a way that doesn't interfere, but still does let you carve out that time for yourself and an identity beyond Dad (nothing wrong with "just" being dad of course, but gosh so many parents can lose themselves completely, so I think having that probably keeps parents sane!). Running and regular classes at my gym are totally that thing for me (since my teachers are awesome and are constantly pushing me, but I realize the gym isn't like this for everyone), and having to take time off for injury is really hard. I've certainly felt lost when that's happened, on top of the usual guilt and concern that I'll lose conditioning. I was so worried I'd have to give that all up when my back was acting up earlier this fall. I know there's other ways I could spend my time, but that's how I really WANT to. So I kind of get it.

  6. I made a special trip to my laptop to read this strange blue block of text that I saw on my phone :) definitely not boring stuff man--super powerful and really honest. running is a big deal to you now of course (duh), and everything you said about family dynamics and the like is spot-on. I couldn't agree with you more. I've often had the same or similar feelings/reactions with other people when things haven't gone my way (in other words, I don't do my run = watch the eff out, world; this ginger's gonna break people). I've also wondered how 'healthy' that is as well. Pete's comment is perfect, too; it's hard to right now, because you're still super revved up from the marathon, and you're meeting all these cool new people, and you know you're just scratching your talent, but think long term. Looooooong term. It's super hard to do because it involves a lot of hypothetical and, perhaps, wishy-washy thinking, but I think it can be helpful to keep us grounded. Of course, you're gonna be pissed or upset or whatever when you have to take time off for illness or injury or whatever, but in the big scheme of things, if you need to take 4 days or 4 weeks or whatever off now to guarantee that you'll be able to run for the next 4 years, the decision makes itself. you don't need me to tell you this, but you are absolutely doing the right thing. absolutely. and in the meantime, if you aren't running, you can always still maintain the friendships in other ways-- going out, letting your daughter entertain your buddies, ya know, whatever :) heart goes out to ya man... but I promise you, you're doing this right. you are being so smart, and I assure you that this will pay you back in dividends--lots of them--later. promise.

  7. I read it earlier on my phone... was it blue then? Oww, my eyes!

    I can completely relate. Running is not really exercise for me either, but cliche as it is, therapy, and when I don't get to do it, I am all out of sorts. I hope you get to be back at it soon.

  8. It is YOU who is the Batman. I am Neo. Together we will rule Chicago with our running insanity as the Chosen Two.

  9. Unfortunately, the blue shit just stays blindingly blue on my phone. I'll read it at home. You know I can relate to your runless agony. Relegating myself to writing ancient race reports either clearly points to the depth of my breakdown or the expansiveness of my hope and love of running. Let's go with the latter :) Keep the faith, man.

  10. Yea. It is like dealing with an addiction and trying to figure out if running is covering something else up? *deep*

  11. All you see is numbers and pace times!

  12. Thanks! I need my gel meds to hold me over!

  13. Thanks for the special trip!
    I totally understand the health bit and that hasn't bothered me, its more just the emotional response I'm getting and trying to figure out if it is actually running as a community I need, or if running was my medicine for something that should be worked on and not medicated! I'll go with 1, cause 2 sounds scary

  14. thanks for the podcast recommendations!!

    That last line you wrote hit it right on (TWSS). It is an activity I choose to do, in an environment I choose, it is that part of the day I can be selfish and do what I want before I re-enter into the adult life for the day!

  15. I hope your scan doesn't show any Fracture! Totally have that same feeling, trying to be patient!
    Thanks for commenting!

  16. Everyone always likes the first 10 seconds!
    I hope you saw a picture of Donald Duck with the spots (the actual goal of the post)
    Def understand the long term and the healing process. I'm just struggling with trying to figure my emotional stat out of dependency and growth in life... too deep? TWSS
    Yes drinks and sausage!

  17. Maybe not appropriate, but it would make it a lot more funny!

    I haven't signed up for anything, and have been trying to just let it go and focus more on the rest of the day, the upcoming holidays, and veg a little in older hobbies!

    Do you think Garmin would give us super deep discounts on it since we are so awesome?

  18. Ha, so I use Feedly and it didn't include your sneaky block-this-out highlighting. So yes, I read it. And what the hell, are you like, HUMAN or something???? Plz go back to sausage and TWSS jokes.

    JK, I know what you're saying, and I hope you can get back to running soon. In the meantime, I dunno ... drink more?

  19. Read it, of course. We all go through those feelings whenever we are handed (forced) a break in our running. And those feelings are completely understandable. What matters most is how you deal with it and keep the rest of your life in perspective. Don't worry...when you and your body are ready, running will be there. And your running...scratch that...friends aren't going anywhere, we'll be here the whole time.