Running: I love you, I love you not

I’m about two months out from half-marathon day, and I’m counting down the days as I rack up the miles. All this running has given me a lot of time to think about… running. I’m not even sure how I feel about running, to be honest. It’s kind of strange—if someone asked me right now, “Do you like running?” I’m not sure how I would answer that. It’s not really as simple as “yes” or “no.”

I’ve told friends before that I have a love/hate relationship with running, and I think that’s as close to an answer as I can give to the question above. The love: I feel really great after I’ve run. I’m always proud of the long runs in particular. I enjoy the quiet and solitude of early morning runs, watching the sun rise over the river and keeping an eye out for wildlife (it’s common for me to see deer, raccoons, armadillos, rabbits, snakes, etc, and they always make my runs more interesting). I like that my body is getting stronger and that I can tell I’m making progress in my endurance. And there are the endorphins. (In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands.”)

The hate: I genuinely have no natural talent for running whatsoever—I’m very slow and awkward. It’s a pain making time for running—I have to arrange all of my weekend plans around squeezing in my long run, plus fit in a few shorter runs during the week when I’ve already got work, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and kids’ extracurricular activities. And sometimes I feel self-conscious when I’m out on the trail with the “real” athletes. I feel like all of the runners I see at 6:30 AM have single-digit body fat percentage and can run a mile twice as fast as I can. That old song used for teaching toddlers always goes through my mind: “One of these things is not like the other ones, one of these things is different!”

And with this love/hate relationship with running comes a wide range of emotional highs and lows while I’m running, as well as what basically amounts to a temporary split-personality disorder. By that, I mean that I seem to have two versions of myself doing battle in my mind. There’s Peppy Jayna, and there’s Whiny, Sarcastic Jayna. And our internal conversations go something like this:

Peppy Jayna: Good job! You’re doing just fine! Only four more miles to go!

Whiny/Sarcastic Jayna: Ugh. Four miles is a long way. Stop being so positive.

Peppy Jayna: I have to be positive or you’ll want to quit! So let’s stay happy!

Whiny/Sarcastic Jayna: But my legs hurt. I’m tired. I’m hungry. Can I just be miserable? Why do I have to run AND be happy about it? I think that’s asking too much of me.

Peppy Jayna: If we’re going to do it, we might as well try to have a good attitude about it! I’ll keep using LOTS of exclamation marks in your mind so that you’ll stay upbeat!! We can do this!!!

Whiny/Sarcastic Jayna: Please stop.

So my mind gets a little weird when I’m out running long distances.

For better or worse, it’ll be over in a couple of months. In spite of some really tough training runs, I’m looking forward to race day… and I think I’ll let Peppy Jayna take the lead.  

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