Last week I posted about non-running members, and while the comments here were all very positive … that is because we are all runners. It is the very nature of our somewhat insular community that we would share some common thoughts – and this would naturally include running, healthy pursuits and more. However, ourside of the blog … I got feedback. Feedback from a variety of sources, that was uniform – and uniformly different from the comments.
Feedback is good – it is a reminder that our perspective is incomplete. Running is inherently a personal endeavour, a selfish solo sport. That doesn’t make us selfish for running, because the health benefits make us better in so many ways – it just means that like pretty much any exercise, the focus is on us. Which means we aren’t necessarily objective about the greater impact of our activities – and so we need to listen when we are told “you have no idea what it is like to be waiting on the other side of the finish line.”
So let’s take a look at some other thoughts:
Thoughts from the Other Side of the Barrier
1. It is NEVER ‘Just a Run’ – sure you can get hurt stepping into the shower, but running presents unique challenges. All this winter I ran in some incredibly dangerous conditions – sub-zero temperatures with strong winds, days school was cancelled, unplowed roads and so on. In summer, there is heat exhaustion and dehydration to content with as well! Sometimes we say we’re going for 5-6 miles and end up doing 9-10 (that isn’t just me, right?) and our family wonders where we are. Things a runner might call ‘a challenge’, their supporters think of as ‘scary’ or ‘stupid’.
The longer the distance, the greater the chance of things happening, the greater the worry.
2. The Fear of the Medical Tent – this past year at the Wineglass Marathon was brutal. Not only were the temperatures over 80F and humid, it had already cooled down in our area so no one was ready for it! As a result I passed two people loading into ambulances, had a police officer ask about another collapsed runner, saw more people vomiting than usual, people really hating it, and so on.
But while I saw that from the road, all my wife and kids saw was the people in awful shape finishing before me, including one who collapsed and had to be carried off less than 100 yards before the finish – and an overflowing medical tent. The uncertainty is incredibly hard for those waiting for loved ones.
3. By The Side of the Road, Somewhere – pretty much every week this year there has been something on Facebook about a runner or biker who was hit or side-swiped or otherwise run off the road. And despite having ‘Find my phone’ and so on, it can be nerve-wracking when our loved ones head out the door, and don’t really know exactly when they’ll be home, and so on.
4. Running a Marathon? 3-4 Hours Means 2 – 3 Days! – last summer when I did the PA Grand Canyon, getting the packet was the day before, and the hours were about noon to 6, meaning that with the 1+ hour drive it ripped apart THAT day, then the race day is pretty much entirely consumed. And if you are traveling further then you might end up with two nights in a hotel.
And suddenly we see how a nice little morning run and cheap shoes twice a year can transform into something that takes up entire weekends and costs thousands of dollars per year between race fees, lodging, transportation, supplies, equipment and so on.
5. Fear of Injury – runners worry about injuries, but so do their loved ones for a few reasons: the obvious concern about any injury, knowing how much the inability to run will impact the person’s life, and the ‘stupid factor’.
There are some of my friends here who will laugh at that – but I can cite more than a couple of people who have ended up re-injured or hurt their recovery by being over-zealous, and at least one I am pretty sure did it but never fessed up.
6. More Than Just You – again, the risk you take, the chance of injury, and so on … they don’t happen in a vacuum. If you are hurt or hit by a car or suffer a heart attack, you are unable to be there for loved ones, your job, your kids, and so on. And while you can certainly get an injury doing anything, doing an endurance sport where you push your body like a marathon adds to the risk, and it is always worth considering the risk/reward in the context of all the others impacted by your life.
The bottom line? While running is a solo activity, it is very much a ‘team sport’. I am very lucky to have an amazing team to support me and call me out on all of the stupid crap I do … and I really try to listen to the feedback. As runners, that is what we need to do – be thankful for the love in our lives, appreciative of the support, and reflective of all the worry and concern these people have for us. And we should listen.
Day Two: Nine Loves
1. Lisa – I have been with Lisa for more years than I have been without her, and I cannot imagine a day where I am not connected to her. I get a little ‘eye-folly’ when everyone is a ‘soul mate’ … but all I know is I am very happy, have a great life, and feel incredibly fortunate.
2. Danny – Danny is a reflection of me in very many ways, but he also has elements of Lisa and is very much his own individual. I keep signing up for NaNoWriMo to write a novel, but the reality is Danny can jot off something for a creative writing assignment in 30 minutes that is better than anything I have ever written. He has great artistic vision, is funny and talented in many ways, and has a big heart. Oh, and I have to mention that in his room now he has CDs from both Miles Davis and Pat Metheny.
3. Chris – As Danny reflects me, so does Chris reflect Lisa. But he also brings in much of my musical passion and a sense of style and flair all his own. He is gifted musically and as a chef, but also in so many other ways. His photographic vision stuns me as someone who is a total hack, and his open heart and love for the downtrodden always inspire me.
4. Our pets – we have two dogs, two cats and two fish. We take in pets are parts of the family, not ‘things’ – they are our babies, and didn’t stop being so when we had kids. Our dogs are Norfolk Terriers, scrappy little beasts who are so full of joy; we have one cat who is 13 with cancer we got as a kitten, and who continues to terrorize the neighborhood … the other was dumped on us ‘to watch for a few weeks’ – three years ago. She was abused and neglected and is slowly adapting to love and togetherness.
5. Running – Yeah, no surprise here.
6. My job – I am very fortunate that I have had three really great jobs of the five (really four and one 3-month contract) I’ve had since starting my professional career. One got me started, the second allowed me to flourish, and at Corning I am growing and developing and experiencing the breadth of stuff the company does – and making a difference.
7. Music (making & listening) – I have a deep and intense of love of music. Listening to something I love has a profound impact … but nothing compares to the feeling of making my own music. For several years I have put my music on the back burner, noodling with guitar and keyboard – but this past month resurrecting my studio has been completely amazing. Listening to stuff I had been working on before energizes and transports me, and starting to do new stuff makes time evaporate!
8. Food – I might have a ‘complicated’ relationship with eating, but I love food. And really in the last year I cannot name any time I have had ‘food regrets’ like I have always had throughout my life. Yet I have baked cakes, eaten scones and gobs of ice cream, many glasses of wine and so on. I had called this approach ‘intentional eating’, and it has been the best thing I have ever done for my eating – I eat what I want and ‘own it’, but what I want is almost exclusively ‘good fuel’.
9. Technology – not just stuff like computer devices … just technology. Old telephones intrigued me as a kid, then programming, games, circuit boards, lasers, computer devices of all types. I used to joke that I interfaced better with machines than with people, not really true, but it was always a natural connection for me.
Bonus. My Blog Friends! – I am fortunate to have ‘internet friends’ I have known for almost 20 years now who I have never met in person but connect with at least annually. I also remain in occasional contact with a few folks from sites I’ve written for through the years, but mostly not.
Yet over the last few years things have changed: I have become genuine friends with the editors at Gear Diary – there is an annual ‘GearFest’ at one of the co-owner’s lake house which is a blast, and one of the editors and her wife were amazingly supportive taking me in and cooking me dinner one night while I was with my brother after his heart attack. Now I have made some excellent connections through blogging – people I consider genuine friends who I would love to actually meet someday, but regardless I am made better by knowing them. Thanks to all of you.
So what do YOU love?
So many loves! My fiance, Ben, my family, our fur-baby kitten Creemee, the town we live in… Life is pretty good these days 😀
Awesome – thanks for sharing. Enjoyed reading about your recent stuff, and Burlington is an amazing little city 🙂
It sure is! Especially for active people 🙂
Very interesting to hear from the other side!! Valid points, but I think most of us are still too crazy to let those points stop us overall … hopefully they’ll just make us a bit more careful and smart!
To me, having something like “find my phone” should negate most of the worry about when you’ll be back, whether you’ve been hit by a car, etc. Last week, as I always do when running alone, I texted my husband to give him the heads-up that I was on my way home from work. I was surprised to see him on the porch cheering for me when I got onto our block — despite having dinner on the stove. Tracking me with the “find my phone” let him know about when to put the pasta in the water, and when to walk out onto the porch to clap for me, he just watched my little blue ball coming toward him. But those fears of the medical tent, overuse, etc. are valid and I think not unique to non-runners. With others in my family, we talk about running a lot and I definitely worry if ther’s a nagging injury for someone and they don’t seem to be resting it, or worrying they’ll push too hard (even if I’m out there running my own race, the worry is still there). But I could see how it would be maybe more confusing or more scary/threatening for a non-runner. No surprises on your loves, all frequent topics on your blog showing they’re right by your heart!
Thanks – and very valid point about the use of the smartphone apps. I think a big thing is context – as runners it is important to know the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aches and pains, things that just are normal from a good run followed by being on your butt at work … and what is telling you that you might be hurt. This matters because people who don’t do a certain activity (running, biking, lifting, whatever) don’t have that context.
I always love reading about your family – you write about in them in such a way that your love is evident, and they are lucky to have you. My love: rain. It’s the one state of weather I’ll never complain about!
Thanks Laura … and rain can be really nice, but the funny thing is that the mention of rain brings up different images depending on the time of year. A couple of months ago it would have been a nasty freezing rain, now it is great to soak out the heat. 🙂
I totally get what you are saying… But I love every version! I think because it means the temp is always running and sleeping approved!
Very true – maybe the difference is your temperatures are cooking, and I am still too close to the frigid temps of running in winter! haha – I ran in torrential rain two weeks ago and it was awesome!
Interesting feedback from the non runners! My husband is really supportive and I don’t think he “goes there” with worries…but yet my running definitely has a presence in our family even though it’s done when everyone’s still sleeping for the most part.
I’m also lucky that my husband likes going on mini trips so the twice year marathons are fun for him. Definite food for thought!
Everyone is different, Michele, as you know – and I think the whole point is that regardless of situation, our running has a wider impact than just us. Thanks for the comment!
I must be one of the one’s put in the over-zealous category hehehhe, well if the shoe fits, I guess I will wear it :-). Great post, I hadn’t really thought of running from the other’s in our live’s perspective, after all it is all about me – right. But really, you do bring up a lot of great points and so many of us are lucky to have people in our lives who are so supportive of running.
Like you I would have many of the same relationships on my list (different names), plus 4 grandkids, so that keeps things interesting. However, the complications of a very contentious divorce and then getting married a couple of years later to someone who had nothing to do with it, makes things very complicated at times (blended families are not always the Brady Bunch), so a list like that would be ill-advised for me even after more than a decade. 🙂
Ahhh the foibles of life, but it seems like you have many great things to be happy about 🙂
It is sad to hear about your contentious divorce – I knew you were remarried from the mentions of ‘SD’ on your blog. But it is sad … my brother is still dealing with after-shocks of a very contentious divorce, and it is just no fun for anyone involved.
And yes, I will confess you were one of the ‘over-zealous’ ones I was thinking about! 🙂
I think that my relationship with Alex, who used to power lift, gives me a unique perspective on my own running–we focus on such different aspects of fitness, and though we dabble in each other’s spheres (I lift every other day, he runs periodically) I don’t understand his desire to lift absurdly heavy things and “get big” and he doesn’t understand my desire to run for a really long time. We both worry about one another when one gets hurt doing what he or she loves, and it makes each of us really sad for the other, because we know how much it affects us. He knows that travel is a component of what I do, but it is far less than what used to be necessary when I rode horses. But we respect each other’s passions. And respect and concern go a long way.
Great post, and love your loves 🙂
That is very important – empathy. It is great having a partner to go through this stuff. Lisa and I talk about all of it – weight, exercise, injuries, worries about kids, and so on … all the time. 🙂
My husband is my biggest worrywart/always nervous for all the things you mentioned!! This is a wonderful post!
haha I am loving all the different perspectives! My wife thinks it is crazy that I will always worry about her, then tell HER not to worry when I run in -20F temperatures!
Ahhhh! I love my husband and our puppy, and my family, and friends. It was pretty much unbearable when I had to leave them for 2.5 weeks for a trip to Europe! Towards the end all I was thinking is how many more dodos till I’m gonna see my babies aka my hubby and Bella 🙂 Great post as always! xoxo Olena
I completely get what you are saying – and that makes travel hard. On the one hand you want to enjoy it, yet at the same time you miss those you love and want to share everything with them. Last year I was in San Diego and was constantly thinking ‘Lisa would love this, this is SO Danny, OMG I need to take a picture of this for Chris’ and so on. 🙂
Sometimes I don’t know how to respond to your writing. You provide such thought provoking material, I want to reply with equally thoughtful comments, and when I cannot match the level you’ve dedicated I hesitate. Hard sometimes so I’ll just jump in with a contrarian perspective, to the top part not the loves, those are yours and they’re awesome.
Friends/family who stress about their runners: Not to be callous, but they’re going to stress anyways. Maybe not about running, but people have heart attacks on the golf course, or accidents driving home, or fall off piers fishing swept out to sea, or….whatever. When I think about the history of human existence, for the majority of humanity, nobody ever knew when their loved ones were coming home. Tech has allowed us an unprecedented ability to predict when someone will be precisely at a specific location. Since time immemorial, people have had to deal with the uncertainty of when or if they’ll reunite with their loved ones.
Maybe our blogging circle is very high on Maslow’s hierarchy, once we’ve got the basics solved, we’re left with first world problems. Not that it makes them feel any less harsh, but I’ve got a skeptical streak regarding tech and instant knowledge of our whereabouts and estimated arrival times.
… and this is why I love your comments. Because it is true – this isn’t running-specific, and neither was last week. You could take pretty much any activity and provide a two-sided context.
The only thing I would separate is leisure vs. employment activities. Not that the risks are inherently different, but the motivation and necessity and potential alternatives play out differently.
And yes, we are pretty ‘first world’ in our issues 🙂 But the fact that we’re talking about endurance exercise as a leisure pursuit already tells us that …
Your post made me glad my husband is a distance swimmer so he freaks out slightly less and understands my running obsession. That didn’t keep me from being a complete wreck when he crossed the English Channel last fall, even with his crew texting me and satellite tracking. I was quite a sight pacing half the night.
Your 9 loves, especially what you wrote about your family, was lovely.
I think we all have our own thresholds and triggers for worry, and I think seeing how much of a mess my brother was after his first marathon and me after my first half conditioned my wife in a negative way 🙂 So even though I am now much better prepared and am fine at the finish … well, the concern remains.
It’s cuz she luuuurrrrves you! 😉
haha … so true 🙂
Running definitely is a team sport with all of the people who make training and/or racing a possibility 🙂 This is a great list of loves!!
Thanks Kecia – and I recommend everyone check out yours as well … such a great list 🙂 Look forward to next week!
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