run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Running: The Hobby

I am having a hard time getting back into running. Of course, I expected some of that. Running sucks when it's hard. But just because I expected it, doesn't mean it makes it any easier.

This morning while running, I started thinking about why I run. I've done many, many posts on that topic, so, I'll spare you another. But the two biggest things are that running makes me feel good about myself and I think the physical exercise keeps the black dog at bay. Running is not just my exercise of choice, but for the last few years, it's been a big part of my identity, as well. At it's core, running is my escape from the humdrums of life and my biggest hobby.

Now that I'm in my 30s, I find myself comparing to myself to my parents a lot. Every day, I look more and more like my mom.

 My mom's in the pink.
My aunt's in the white.
Yes, they are wearing matching rompers, but in different colors.
Yes, you could do that in the 80s.

I will never be as hot as my mom was, however.
She's had 3 kids in this pic and I've had ZERO and my 
body will never look this good. 

 And every day I find my personality becoming more and more like my dad. When I was growing up, my dad was a hobby enthusiast. He was a member of a Spelunking Club and a Spoonplugging Club (also known as a fishing club). And he took us out camping and on the lake a LOT.

Spelunking Club.
My dad is second from the left.

He's always been interested in cars and when my brothers got older and interested in them, too. They spent MANY hours every week together working on old cars.

And now you know where I get my body from.
Stumpy legs and long torso. Thanks, Dad!

To get all therapist-y on my dad, I think a big part of him keeping busy and having lots of different hobbies and interests is for a couple of main reasons. One, he was drafted in the Army as a young man, and I think having 2 years of your life taken away from you to serve your country would put anyone's spare time into perspective.
Stationed in Alaska.

And two, he was the sole provider for my family and worked long and hard hours at a desk. He definitely worked/still works more and harder than I do, but, I too feel the need to do something with my life when I'm not at work.
Back in the day, visiting dad at the office on a Saturday.
Please note, he has a pic of me on the credenza behind him.

All the gratuitous photos and stories of my family to say... I've realized that running is pretty much my only hobby. I mean, sure, I do other things... I read and watch television and I enjoy cooking and yoga. I would love to hike and camp more often than I do now. And while travel is probably the thing I love most, it's not something that I can do every week/weekend (see: why I don't hike and camp as much as I would like to).  So, the fact that running has become such a chore for me, is kind of slowly sucking away at my soul.

Ahhhh the good ole days.
When my main hobbies included clomping around in adult shoes...
And hosting my dolls and imaginary friends
for tea parties.

When the hobby that makes you the happiest and feel the best about yourself, suddenly turns into dogshit, it's hard to get back on track. And it starts affecting your daily life.

All this navel-gazing to say... I think my mental focus on running right now needs to shift into a different direction. I'm going to try not to worry too much about GETTING BACK INTO SHAPE IMMEDIATELY. But, into trying to find enjoyment in running again. Getting back into shape and mileage and speed will all eventually come back.

I feel like I've written these sentiments in MANY posts over the course of the past year or so. And I know, it's boring. But it's something I'm really struggling with. It's not as easy as.... just run when you want! Because, honestly... I'd barely be running if that were the case. And whether I like it or not... I NEED TO RUN. I like who I am when I'm running a lot: I feel better, I sleep better, I work better, I'm a better partner and friend. But, I'm finding that maybe wrapping up so much of my identity into one hobby can be a dangerous game. I wonder if spelunkers have as many existential crises as I do?


Gracie said...

I noticed, as I was dreadfully injured and then recovering from surgery, that you are right. It IS dangerous to identify with a hobby! But then, what is safe to identify with? Jobs change, families change, places you live change. I suppose you might as well say, "I'm a runner", as "I'm a pharmacist" or "I'm a New Orleanian".

Dolly said...

I was having some really bad PMS thoughts yesterday, that echo how you feel sometimes about running being tied to your identity....

Without bringing up other bloggers, I was wondering if my sport and way of working out was becoming obsessive.... Maybe I'm only doing it to burn calories?... Nope Maybe I only do it so I can be alone... Maybe that's true sometimes..

I do know that it helps quiet the racket going on in between my ears.

I sometimes feel like the village idiot when I head out into broiling hot temps to go run, while the rest of my coworkers actually eat lunch.

My running has been going really well for the last 18 months and I'm really afraid of jinxing myself...

I hope you find some peace soon.

chacha said...

I was worried that after like 6 months of not running and growing a human that I'd try to run, be slower, and then hate it. But I think what prevented that was I told myself not to have expectations that in a couple weeks I'd be back to normal.

I've been training now for this damn marathon for 4 full months. And I think maybe I'm back to where I was at before I got pregnant. Maybe. And I have never trained this consistently ever in my life. If I had expected to get back into my old shape in even 2 months, well, I'd be pretty disappointed.

You've taken time off from solid, consistent training. It's going to feel harder. You're going to be slower. Hobbies become completely unenjoyable if you put too much pressure and expectation on yourself. Some is good otherwise we don't get shit done, but too much just ruins everything.

Sorry if I am stating the obvious or am totally unhelpful. I'm just speaking from my recent experience of coming back from zero (like, "walk a minute, jog a minute" type of zero) over the last 9 months and how I have dealt with self-imposed expectations.