Thoughts on Running from the DiversityNerd, Part II “The Good”

First and foremost, in my opinion, the best thing about me running on a regular basis is being more fit. Mind you, my level of fitness as an adult has never been horrible because my hobbies are all very active.  I love dancing hula and paddling outriggers and both of those activities keep me in fairly good shape.  The team bonding over food and drinks doesn’t necessarily help me stay slim, but hula and paddling definitely keep me fit.  Running, especially on a regular training schedule, has actually changed the way my body looks and feels.  I have only lost about five pounds this year, in December 2014 the scale read 149 pounds.  Right now, I weigh 144 lbs. and the lowest the pounds dipped this summer was 141 lbs.  Logically, I realize that the scale should not be an indicator of health and fitness but I would love to be less than 140 lbs. again.  Losing weight through stress doesn’t stick so I am back at 144 lbs.  And I am not worrying about it.  Since I’ve cut back on sugar and alcohol, I don’t worry about what I am eating between now and the race.

From a fitness perspective, I enjoy feeling healthy and sleeping well. I have to attribute these two changes to running on a regular basis.  Karate leaves me exhausted but when we have class in the evenings, I have a very hard time unwinding from the adrenaline so falling asleep is not easy.  Thinking about training and preparing for a big challenge forced me to consider nutrition in a new way.  I cut back on my red wine and brown whiskey in mid-August and just lost a taste for both.  Not drinking also helps my sleep and alleviated the mindless munching that goes along with experiencing a buzzed state of existence.  Eating clean and not drinking has really impacted my fitness but I am still not a runner.  I run to prepare for a race, I don’t enjoy running.

And I have to be honest, it kills me to admit this but I like the way I look (not a very humble Asian thing to admit).  My body is lean and still very strong because of running and karate.  After my emergency surgery in 2001, I found myself on bed rest and couldn’t exercise for months.  During that time, I gained a lot of softness in my thighs.  That softness turned to thickness and fat.  From 2001 until now, I hated showing my thighs and stopped wearing shorts or skirts above the knee.  Body image issues consumed my thought.  The shame I felt at appearance of my thighs paralyzed me.  It was completely not healthy and I am sure it was quite unnecessary for me to hide myself in any way.  However, capris became my go to attire for paddling and hula gear.  Two weeks ago, I put on some shorts with my Toms wedges to run errands with the crew.  He told me, “I see all these people looking at you and then staring at your legs.  I mean staring at them.  You look really good.”  When I admitted that I felt embarrassed of my thighs, he couldn’t believe it.  We had a long, honest talk about it and I shared how unattractive I felt my thighs are.  It was good to finally say the words out loud and to hear feedback.  I still won’t be rocking the Daisy Duke butt-huggers during workouts but at least now I see myself a little differently.  Body-shame is a bitch.

One other good thing about running is being accountable to the training schedule. That accountability gives me an honest sense of accomplishment.  It never dawned on me how far I could run in just 30 minutes or how effective such a short workout feels, when done on a consistent basis.  Seeing the light at the end of the training tunnel and reading all the posts from other excited competitors on Facebook really keeps me motivated.  I did miss my 14 mile run on Sunday because life got out of hand with work, my daughter’s homecoming, and other stuff.  However, I walked/jogged/ran my miles on both Saturday and Sunday.  And I felt proud of myself.

Time alone on a run provides an opportunity to breathe and ponder and be the introvert that I am at my core. My day to day work life is filled with meetings and questions and problems to solve.  And my personal time is consumed, as well.  The good thing is, I love my life.  My daughter is continuing to work hard and I see her maturing every day.  Karate and hula surround me with so much love and people who are dedicated to learning and growing.  They are my ohana, if not by blood, then definitely by sweat.  But being alone is a luxury now.  And I need that time to rejuvenate myself.  Sometimes I create alone time by not smiling and being quiet and people freak the fuck out around me.  If I go off in my own world for a few minutes they ask if I am ok or what’s wrong or am I mad and I come back to look at them and say, “Huh?  I am fine.”  So goes the life of an introvert who is surrounded by so many extroverts.  I know I am blessed to have so many people who care and for that, I remain grateful.

Structure is important when life becomes frenetic. All of the craziness at work and the incredible amount of change takes a toll on my colleagues and on me.  This training program became an anchor or a constant in my ever-changing schedule in late summer and early Fall.  The time change occurred this past Sunday and now the evenings grow dark much earlier.  I am hopeful that preparation for my belt test in December will keep me motivated to run three times a week. In fact, I need to outline a schedule to follow between November 21 and December 6 to get me to my belt test and then find another program to get me to the Surf City Half Marathon on SuperBowl Sunday 2016.  After that, all bets are off for me running another race, since I am not a runner.

A third “good” that I associate with running is not about fitness or alone time or a sense of accomplishment. I have really enjoyed shopping for running clothes.  That may seem shallow and superficial but running does require special gear.  Sports bras that I wear for hula do not provide enough support to the tatas for running.  So then I had to research which styles and brands work best for my cup size and buy them and try them.  Lesson learned, spend the money to protect the tatas.  Gravity is not friendly to a forty something year old woman running four times a week, even with lower case C cup sized breasts.

Another critical piece of equipment is the shoes one wears. For the last three years, I wore Brooks Adrenaline running shoes.  This style is very stable for fake runners who need the extra support.  My most recent running analysis put me in neutral shoes with level five cushioning.  I moved from needing stability to being neutral, I wonder if that applies to more than just my feet?  These shoes feel like heaven for my runs over 5 miles and not I am thinking that I want to get a different pair for runs that are 4 miles or less.  Am I turning into an actual runner?  No way, that wouldn’t be good, would it?

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