Running Holiday Games, Three Gifts and a Thought


Hi everyone! Hope everyone who got a long weekend for the Christmas holiday had a great and relaxing time, and those who (like me) get even more time make the most of that! Just a quick few things today …

Running Holiday Games

As I have done a fair amount of miles – just over 23 on Christmas Eve, more than 10 the day after Christmas and about the same on Saturday. All of those were mid-day runs, so I got to get a good look around, and I just found it interesting. I typically run the same half-dozen or so routes, so I get accustomed to the sights. I don’t know about anyone else, but when things change – I tend to notice!

– Loads of out of state plates … family all over.
– I miss when their younger daughter was in high school and they put out the big inflatable dreidel an menorah.
– On their phone … on their phone … eating … actually paying attention … on phone …
– Gone for the holidays again, wonder where their families are located?
– Love seeing four generations out together.
– Hey – isn’t that ___’s daughter? Wonder how she’s doing at ___ (small Corning world when this is more than one!)
– They’re gone … wonder if their daughter had the baby?
– Is he actually old enough to be driving?
– Interesting they put up so many decorations and are gone all of Christmas week.
– Biking around Christmas … such gorgeous weather.
– Two people I work with – one is Jewish, the other Hindu … and they have Christmas decorations up for the kids – a reminder of my ‘two Christmas’ theory!
– Loads of cars yesterday, all gone today – wonder where they headed?
– He/She looks so fast but I am catching up to them … this HAS been a good year for me.

Have you been out and about and noticing all of the little things in your area?

Three Gifts

My Christmas list was pretty short – wardrobe replacement. Changing shape means that clothes no longer fit, and at this point I want stuff that fits rather than stuff that is too large. Which means a great new set of awesome clothes and an upcoming trip to the clothing charity donation drop. But I got three really cool running-related gifts I wanted to share:

Brooks Glove/Mitten Set – I constantly complain about how cold my hands get … so I was thrilled that my boys ordered me a 3-in-1 glove/mitten set. The liners have a fleece interior and are pretty warm themselves, but then the mittens have a wind-block exterior to keep my hands warm and protected. This is just awesome and exactly what I needed!

Frozen Band-Aids ‘for the nip-nops’ – OK, this just totally cracked me up! You really don’t think ‘bloody nipples’ unless you are a male distance runner – or a family member of a male distance runner! So opening this package … priceless!

A Supportive Family – This was taken at the Woodhouse pub in Corning, which is really close to the skating rink where we just did a family skating outing. Over the last nearly 3 years of me being a dedicate long distance runner my family dealt with my new focus as it helped with health and weight and fitness, then became weary of how much of an impact it occasionally had, and in the past year it has become part of our lives.

And as the gifts above indicate, along with their concern about me ‘getting in my run’ … they really get it. Running is part of me, and therefore is a part of them – but like anything else, it is just a ‘thing’, and therefore when it seems to be pushing too high in my mind I can count on them to call me out on my BS. And that is part of being a supportive family – being there behind each other, but also providing a reality check when needed.

A Thought

Earlier this year I wrote about running from the perspective of the runner, and also the non-running family member. As I noted at the time, the feedback I got about the first one was it was a bit ‘tone deaf’ with respect to non-runners.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I read a post that has stuck with me, because it is a long post that is stunning in the extent that it is reactionary … to the point of saying of non-runners “they don’t understand what happiness really is.” Which is just plain scary. I’m not linking – I left a comment on how unhealthy I found the attitudes presented (not to mention the ‘hive mind’ replies), and that is good enough.

But reading that brought me a realization: if you re-read the post substituting the word ‘Vicodin’ for running you would be concerned for the life of the writer. Running can be an incredibly healthy practice – I am thankful every day that I can get up and go out running for about as many miles as I want with almost no repercussions. But it can be a substitute for dealing with reality, an escape from life and responsibilities, and can even become an unhealthy pursuit when taken to the extreme. Which left me with a thought:

If you have immersed yourself so deeply in something that you are skipping time with family, friends, work events, things you used to enjoy, obligations, think only of that thing, ascribe to it qualities greater than it can possibly deliver, and of those who question your newfound obsession you instantly assume nefarious intentions and doubt that they ‘know what happiness is’ … you might have a problem.

Happy Monday!

34 thoughts on “Running Holiday Games, Three Gifts and a Thought

  1. VERY interesting food for thought. I am pretty good about taking days off so Greg and i can do stuff together..I would never want myself to get that obsessed!

    I love those gloves!! I have a similar pair, but i think its time to upgrade as the lining is starting to rip! and i can feel the wind seeping through at times!!

    So funny…someone by the name of “nipease” liked a photo of mine from my IG..I was with my SIL, so we had to check out their page-neither of us has ever, obviously, given a single thought to nipple problems when running, but i do feel bad for you men who do have that! i guess it equates to sports bra chafe, though!

    • I look at it this way Nicole – anyone who has ever followed your blog, Instagram, etc, for 15 seconds knows you balance husband, child, job, friends and running as best you can. That pretty much means you are not that type of person … though I think ALL of us go through these periods where we get a bit over the top πŸ˜‰

      And chafing in general is a bad thing … but I think that we can all agree that chafing on say a waistline from a crappy running belt is different from nipples. πŸ™‚ I don’t wish that on anyone! haha

  2. I loved reading this. First of all, Frozen Nips….too funny. Why didn’t I think of that for Rock? Second, I can see how running can go from a hobby very quickly to an obsession. I have certainly created a life around it but as Rock joked yesterday I clearly run for the food (we had a dinner buffet to go to so I waited to run until right before so I didn’t sit around angry hungry all day). It can do a lot for us but it can also take us away from those we love and reality. I spend a lot of time lately thinking about how when a family becomes a reality for us things will have to change so that we can all enjoy our healthy habit and also be together too.

    • That gift showed so much thought and so much of their personality – for something that cost them $2 at the grocery store … a reminder that it really IS the thought that counts!

      And I totally agree with you on how running can impact things – I certainly wouldn’t be able to do my running schedule if my kids weren’t nearly adults!

  3. Love the presents, the nipple band-aids are/can be a necessary evil on long runs and if someone has ever had the bloody t-shirt and then showered after, it does suck!

    I have seen obsessed runners who go to far with running, be there done that myself when I was younger, so it does happen and if you do not have people, friends and family to bring you back to reality – you can get pretty unhealthy doing our healthy sport.

  4. I got new running gloves too! Not super fancy like yours, but they do a decent job of keeping the fingers warm, and I can actually use my phone with them too!

    I wrote a post WAY back about not letting running overshadow everything in my life like I once let my theater “hobby,” and it’s definitely an attitude I keep close–it’s not worth giving up other things that make me happy all the time to be stronger/faster/have more mileage.

    • I do like ‘smartphone gloves’ – they used to be rare but now they seem everywhere!

      I think that is a great attitude – and comparing to your theater work is a great analogy. We all have multiple pursuits, people we deal with and so on … the key is finding a balance. And the thing about balance is it is seldom perfect – we skew one way or another from time to time, and that is ok … it is when things make an unhealthy shift to the exclusion of all others that we need to regain balance.

  5. Oh, my. goodness. They feel sorry for people because they don’t understand happiness???
    WOW. That’s like saying people who are allergic to wheat or milk or whatever don’t know happiness because they can’t have bread or chocolate. Believe me, happiness is possible, people! You can create your own happiness! That person is living in a world just as unreal and imaginary as Narnia. If running contributes to happiness, then yay, but if not, maybe yoga does.
    I was going to say some other things, but that makes me sad, so I am going to leave off here.

    • Thanks Suz … and I think most of us see our pursuits fall out of balance on occasion, and sometimes getting away from one group of people or set of pursuits if they are not healthy is good, but when taken to an extreme becomes unhealthy. And you are so right – there are many paths to happiness, and to assume that those who question you on what appears to be an addictive behavior simply don’t know how to be happy merely confirms that issue to me.

      And I was also bothered because there were about 10 ‘totally agree’ comments there as well before I chimed in (though to the bloggers credit they didn’t delete my comment)
      Thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

  6. Wow, that post sounds pretty intense. Like anything else, even running can be taken to an unhealthy level if it becomes your only source of happiness and you can’t accept that others may be perfectly happy living their lives differently.
    I liked the first part of your post, and when I lived in the suburbs I used to have similar thoughts. Its harder to notice things like that around the city.
    I’m glad that you were able to get some good runs in last week while also enjoying time with your family!

    • Totally agree with you Lisa πŸ™‚

      It is funny, since I am normally back home by 6AM I don’t see tons of activity on my runs, other than knowing who leaves for work early, and so on. My weekends and holiday runs allow me to see much more of the world, and for some reason I really appreciated it this week.

  7. I love your substitution of Vicodin in that statement. It’s true that everything can be taken to an extreme (even our beloved working out/running.) When it starts to negatively impact other aspects of our lives, its time to take a step back and re-evaluate.

    In happier news, I love your new running gear and I know I commented on IG, but both Ashton and I love your new Frozen band aids (which I may add, Ashton asked for at the Grocery store yesterday, but they were fresh out of all things Frozen, much to his dismay!!)

    Great job on getting in some good runs over the holidays and spending some awesome quality time with your beautiful family!

    • I loved that comment about Ashton liking the Band-Aids … that is a conversation that would be lost on a 2 year old πŸ˜‰

      And I agree that constant re-evaluation is a good thing – I know you have talked about how things interact between all of the crazy work and wife and mom things you try to do and how marathons are really out of scope for a while as a result … and to be honest I can’t imagine having done the type of miles I do now when I had the hour+ commute each way and two young kids!

  8. So true on that final thought. I feel really strongly about that since I’ve been on the brink of running “obsession” in the past and have also used running to escape feelings/reality. Running, and really anything else in life, is what we make of it and it can be healthy or unhealthy that way.

    Also, I love the Frozen band-aids of course and the list of things noticed on your run πŸ˜‰ It’s amazing the tiny changes we noticed while on foot versus traveling a route by car!

    • Exactly – anything we choose to do can be taken to unhealthy levels. And when those around us question it, we can write off one or two people as trying to ‘hold us back’ -there are unhealthy relationships, after all. But it is when it becomes so pervasive that nothing else matters, that is the issue.

  9. OMG, I totally missed the boat on what to give my husband for Christmas – Hello Kitty Band-Aids for Da Nip Nops. That’s AWESOME!!!! And I totally agree when running becomes a problem. Some people get it, some don’t. I feel sorry for the ones who are missing out on something they can never get back. This year is going to be a really hard balance with my goals (Ironman Florida in November) and family, so I’m guessing that pretty much everything besides training and the family will go by the wayside. It’s not forever, so it’ll be ok, but I’m really hoping I can keep the balance. If I’m not, call me on it, k???

    • Haha – my kids think it is funny everyone makes such a big deal about the Band-Aids, but it makes perfect sense to me! Feel free to steal the idea!

      And I think when you have a specific goal and can communicate what you are doing and he overall scope, it all makes sense and people can work with you. It will be a crazy year for you – and it is probably more about prioritization than balance πŸ™‚

  10. Not sure how best to phrase it, but hopefully you kind of will get my point. I definitely think running can be an unhealthy obsession but at the same time, I think it’s okay if something you choose to do takes time away from family, friends, or other things you like to do. Why is running the only one of those things considered an obsession? If someone replaced “running” in that post with “sleeping 6 or more hours” (instead of “Vicodin”), would that be unhealthy? Maybe without reading the post you’re talking about I’m missing it, but in my mind, work, showering, sleeping, commuting, grocery shopping, working out, most of what we do takes away time from other things — and that’s okay.
    Yes, if you have a little kid, there is a chance you’ll miss that kid’s first steps because you’re out running — it could also happen when you’re at work, or showering, or commuting, or taking out the trash, or catching up with an old friend over coffee, or having a few minutes of peace on the toilet. When you spend time doing anything, you miss out on doing other things. But if you want to dive headlong into some big project at work for a year that means you’re missing out on all the social events, family gatherings, whatever, if that’s your priority, it’s no different from making running your priority. And if you want to pay that price with your time, missing out on other experiences, that’s okay.
    It seems like priorities besides running (such as working, spending time with family, sleeping), are understood and accepted, so I don’t see a big difference in someone being “obsessed” with having 30 minutes of free time to run a few miles after work every day (even when it means others have to work around that — by picking up the kids, eating dinner solo, having someone else shake hands at a work function). Even if they’re inflexible in that obsession. Because no one seems to care if you’re inflexible with other commitments like work, or picking up your kids from school every day, or going to see your in-laws every other weekend or whatever.
    I’m not sure I’m phrasing it well, but I don’t think any particular draw on someone’s time should have to give in favor of running if that is how that person wants to prioritize it, assuming that person accomodates the priorities of others as well. If you’re not willing to skip out of the office every afternoon for 3 hours to volunteer at a soup kitchen because your priority is being in the office and doing your job, that’s okay — I don’t think that’s an unhealthy obsession with work. If you miss your cousin’s wedding because it’s the weekend of your company retreat, or the weekend of a race you’ve trained for, or the weekend of your cat’s big birthday party, that’s okay. If you’re not willing to miss a morning run and therefore you skip a post-dinner suprise party that starts at 10, that’s your choice and I don’t think it’s up to us to say it’s unhealthy. If you’re telling your family that you’re not going to be around for Saturday morning cartoons and donuts and now it’s the other parent’s solo kid time because you’re running, as long as you’re accomodating your spouse’s obsession with being at the office on time every morning, or having poker night with his friends once a month, or whatever, fine. I think there’s a whole separate issue if someone won’t compromise with a spouse’s competing requests (or if someone doesn’t understand that things besides running could make someone happy). But in my mind, if it’s being called an unhealthy obsession and the same isn’t said for other time commitments that people make (like committing to 8 hours in the office, or 8 hours of sleeping), then it’s not a fair attack.
    No idea if I’m making any sense, but I’ve written too much already. Glad you had a nice Christmas, the time together skating sounds particularly priceless and the stuff of good memories!

    • There is stuff I agree with and stuff I disagree with … and something to remember:

      – I have run more than 8000 miles since Easter 2012, so I have very much integrated a considerable commitment to running into my life, and yet continue to sleep, eat, go to work, have loads of time with my spouse and kids both individually and together, and contribute to the function of our household. Actually, in many ways running has increased those things through more energy and better attitude.

      But think about the quote I noted – the person writing it said that non-runners don’t know the true meaning of happiness. That is plain wrong – totally, objectively, dangerously wrong. And more than that it is pretty messed up. People with a healthy perspective realize that there are many paths to happiness.

      Comparing to sleep is … probably not a good comparison, as it is a physical necessity. Running (specifically) is NOT. Period. Exercise is a ‘good idea’, and has multiple benefits … but would you extend your analogy to breathing? No – because it isn’t an option.

      And I don’t know many places where extreme over-commitment to the exclusion of all else is considered a positive thing anymore. Workaholics are typically shitty parents, or just plain non-existent. And you can pick them out easily, because their kids want to be with the people who always show up and the no-show parents are yelling and dressed wrong and then off on their phone. And yes it is their choice, and it tends to reflect pretty easily …

      But beyond this, the article I was talking about was from the point of view of someone who had only been running two years, and really into it for just over a year. And suddenly none of the friends the person had been with all their lives were real friends, family were suddenly terrible people, work wasn’t understanding and so on. Because the friends didn’t understand that the only way to be friends was to become runners, the family expected the person to be at a table for a holiday dinner and schedule the run around it rather than the reverse.

      Carving time into your schedule for exercise is GREAT – and I think everyone should do it. And if you realize that ‘wing night’ leaves you feeling like crap, try to work with friends on alternatives, but realize that you are not ‘right’ and your friends ‘wrong’, it is just different. Compromise it important in any relationship.

      Speaking of relationships … if you are a stay-at-home parent who suddenly wants a babysitter for after school, and to have the working parent be totally responsible for drop-off, pick-up and bath & bed in order to fuel your running schedule – and if you are completely inflexible about it … you have serious issues. The phenomenon of ‘athletic divorce’ (sure the term running widow is used, but applies to bikers and triathletes just as well) is on the upswing because people go seeking to find all answers through a particular exercise hobby rather than the real world.

      So like I said, some stuff I agree, others I disagree … but any activity that causes you to abandon ALL people and activities you had in your life and inferior and no longer worthwhile, and to claim that all other activities are lacking and only YOUR activity has the true path to happiness … you’re not in a good place, or one I would call ‘reality’.

      • That makes sense, and it’s more background about the author. I tried to pick “sleeping more than 6 hours” as an example because I kind of think 6 hours is necessary, and more is a choice (7 or 8 makes me a better person, as does running, but I can get by on 6).

        I agree compromise is the key for everything, and yes, most runners are like you and make it work and this person sounds ridiculous. Someone inflexible about anything is not good (even my husband who is inflexible about brushing his teeth before seeing people, has finally agreed to compromise on Christmas morning because of particular family traditions, and understands he just has to get up and be with family for 15 minutes, not very close and then he can brush away…). Abandoning all other people and activities to focus only on your spouse/kids, your running, your work, whatever, it’s not balanced or good. It’s like when people with kids say they never knew true joy until they had children — there are actually many paths to happiness.

        But using the holiday dinner inflexibility example you gave, I think that if my family expected me to be at the table for a holiday dinner and my justification for not being there was (I am working that day/time because I volunteered to take an extra shift) (I’m sleeping then because I just got off night shift and I want 8 hours of sleep instead of the 6 I’d get if I attended) (we are at my in-laws’ that weekend) (we have already planned a family dinner with my kids/my parents/my spouse at the same time) (it is too expensive for me to travel to be there because I spend my money instead on daily venti lattes) (junior has a school performance at that time), those excuses would all be considered valid choices of how to spend time. Why then is (I have a planned run at that time) not valid?

        Running certainly shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid other obligations (unless that obligation is cross-training, and then heck, don’t we all use miles to escape that?), and obviously there are many paths to happiness, but I think choosing to spend time running is just a valid a choice/excuse as other choices people make. Families often account for things like kids’ sports schedules when planning an event, I just think an adult’s commitments to doing certain things at certain times should be honored as well. Whether that thing is running, a sleep schedule, other family commitments, or work.

        Still kind of thinking I’m not effectively communicating what I was trying to say. Or maybe I am and of course, we can disagree.

      • I don’t think we disagree, and I honestly am thoroughly enjoying the back & forth. But first …

        “when people with kids say they never knew true joy until they had children”

        Yeah, I wrote about that as one of my pet peeves. What an empty life those people must have had … and I feel sad for their kids AND their future! But the fundamental thing about the many paths of happiness – TOTALLY agree!

        As for the hierarchy of choices – we can stick with the family holiday dinner here, and can use Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas here. Let’s start with that hierarchy – there are optional and non-optional things … and let us assume that work is non-optional due to the basic monetary function of our society.

        So when my wife was lab manager in a hospital in Massachusetts, she would pull one of those three holidays every year – that meant we weren’t visiting her family and our time going to MY family was based on her schedule. And because it was known well in advance, dinner could be shifted a bit one way or the other, but with the realization that both of my siblings were juggling two local families in the same day so we had to pick a ‘time window’. Sometimes that meant people were only overlapping for less than an hour over a slice of pie or whatever.

        But imagine if my parents said ‘dinner is at 3PM’ or whatever when one sibling had to leave by 2PM and the other by 4PM and Lisa didn’t get out until 4PM … that would be inflexible scheduling that serves no benefit. Instead everyone flexes as much as they can.

        For me there is an important distinction between fixed and non-fixed time requirements:
        – If you work at a job requiring you to be there specific hours, you can assign that as a FIXED time.
        – If a child has a 1PM soccer game, assume that is FIXED.
        – Running is NOT fixed unless you are going to a race.

        And that to me is the key distinction. If you say to your family ‘I like to get in a morning run every day’, they might complain, and might not enjoy the dogs getting woken up a bit earlier … but it is a self-directed choice. But if you have a family of 20 gathering for a dinner that has been held at 4PM since before you were born and you come to the event and declare that they either need to move it or deal with you not being there because on non-work days you CHOOSE to leave for your run at 3:30PM … then not only are you an insufferable a$$hole πŸ˜‰ … but it is a demand that pretty bluntly states that you believe that your entire family, a history of traditions, and all other schedules worked out around a long standing schedule is of lower priority to when you choose that you want to do a hobby.

        I look at it like this – two cars are an hour from home and a person inside each demands the car turn around, even though it means missing some part of whatever they are driving towards. One car has someone who needs their rescue inhaler for their asthma that has a good chance of being triggered at the event. The other has someone who bought lollipops but forgot them. Both people cause an inconvenience and upset of plans, but the requests and situations are NOT equal … not even close. Know what I mean?

        As I say, running is important to me – but unless you make enough to support yourself it is a hobby. And it is important to remember that when we consider what we are expecting from others in terms of accommodating us. Same for quilting, playing video games, and so on. They are hobbies. That doesn’t make them invalid (and yes I know that the dual hobby-health thing for running) … but maintaining perspective is crucial.

        Your turn πŸ™‚

  11. That gloves/mitten set sounds fantastical. This was the first year I invested in a few pairs of gloves for running, and wow – my runs are so much more enjoyable when my fingers aren’t frozen!
    The post you referenced at the end reminds me of a post on Remy’s World (RW) that came out shortly after Robin William’s death. In short, he criticized people that advertised that “Running is my therapy” and “All you need is a good run”. Running isn’t the cure-all, and I completely agree with Remy. Similar thoughts here – running is hobby! I’m passionate about it, but at the end of the day, my family and friends matter most. Running will always be there, and unfortunately, people won’t.

    • Very good point – those “running as therapy” things bother me for those very same reasons. It seems to trivialize therapy and put too much power in the hands of running. I find running very therapeutic, but it has a limited set of powers and tools to offer.

  12. Love the gloves and seeing the band-aids on Instagram made me laugh- great gifts! The random thought process is awesome and so true. Mine are usually interspersed with “is that a dog and is it chasing me”.
    I have seen some posts where people wax on and on about how happy they are with their running lifestyle or their lifting, their gluten free, their vegan diet, etc and they act like anyone who lives differently is just uneducated. It’s alarming how what can start out as a healthy choice can turn so egocentric, for lack of a better word. What makes person A happy may be the opposite of what makes person B happy and neither is better than the other but sometimes that’s hard for some to see. We shouldn’t paint others with our own obsessions and/or biases, everyone is different and can be happy. Runner or not.

    • Totally agree – we should be able to love what we love without us thinking that anyone who does NOT love it has less valid sources of joy and happiness in their lives.

  13. I loved the thoughts from running through your neighborhood. I really enjoy being able to sort of “keep tabs” on the neighborhood by running around it. I live in an area that is undergoing some rapid changes and it’s cool to see the improvements as they are being made. It’s different every week!

    As for the issues you raise about addiction and unhealthy thinking, I think it’s very true. I’ve seen the same thing with healthy eating – not disordered eating per se, but people who are so obsessed with eating “well” that it becomes a truly disruptive behavior. It is so hard to see these behaviors as unhealthy, I think, because we see them as generally good. It’s good to eat healthy foods, it’s good to exercise, so more must be better! Of course, more isn’t always better, especially when it starts to interfere with other aspects of a healthy, balanced life.

  14. So, I’m going to run every day in 2015, before my shower. I can’t wait. Not sure how far I’ll go – but I’ll run. Now, I have nipples to worry about. I wish we boys didn’t have them.

    It must be tough to be elitist enough to think no one else can know the happiness one knows. I feel bad for them. They don’t know the happiness you can get from acceptance.

    • Sounds like an amazing and audacious plan for the year πŸ™‚ And I agree on the joy of acceptance … and also the realization that we should focus on ensuring our own inner joy is met πŸ™‚

  15. That post does sound scary. You’re totally right about how subbing in a drug for running to show its an addictive behavior makes it scary (I didn’t see the post you’re referring to, just commenting based on my own alcoholism and awareness of addiction and how I try to mitigate harming myself via running). People with disorders will do or say just about anything to justify and continue their disorder. Anyway, you’re preaching to the choir here πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Judith … and you’re right I know it is preaching to the choir πŸ™‚ And like you are trying to do, my whole thing is about balance. I think as a new runner most people tend to go to the other side of the spectrum for a bit – which is fine, but then things need to normalize. And there will always be people who are negative factors in our lives – we need to dump unhealthy relationships, and sometimes a change like running exposes those for what they are. But then sometimes it exposes unhealthy habits in US. It is hard to know, but important.

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