Running and Life: A By-No-Means Comprehensive Analysis of the Similarities

Another way running is like life: there are always fast people at the front. Run your own race.

Another way running is like life: there are always fast people at the front. Run your own race.

Miles run today: 11

Pints of blood I gave on Monday: 1

Number of people one pint of blood can save: 3

[My plug for giving blood: I read a statistic that only 37 percent of American adults are even eligible for giving blood. Please give. You never know when you or a loved one may become a recipient.]

As we headed out on our weekly 11-miler this morning, I was reminded yet again of how much running mirrors life. Or really, how much life mirrors running. You can insert your favorite form of exercise in place of running here ______ if it makes you feel better.

1. The biggest obstacle is your front door. If your body has learned to crave exercise, you do look forward to a workout in much the same way some people crave Goodberry’s ice cream.

But there is writing to do. And there are toilets to clean. And warm, snuggly clothes to wear in the winter, blissful air conditioning in the summer. When you drag yourself out of the house, fingers bent around the door frame in protest, and make yourself start exercising, everything gets easier.

Life is like that, too. You probably won’t be enthusiastic about every single opportunity. Make yourself do it anyway.

2. You may lack the ability to see the big picture. My BFF gets mad at me every time we go on a long run.

The scene: Out in front of her house, me jumping nimbly out of the car like a superhero. (Ha!)

Me: You’re wearing your insulating rain jacket, a long-sleeved shirt, a tank top and leggings? You do realize it’s almost 60 degrees, right?

Her: Oh, you know it doesn’t bother me to just tie my jacket around my waist. No biggie.

Me: Are you sure?

Her: Yes. Now, can we go?

Me: As long as you’re sure.

Her: [Sigh usually made by teenagers in the presence of their moms.]

One mile into the run.

Her: Yep. I knew I’d be taking this thing off. [Delivered in a sing-songy, upbeat voice while tying jacket tidily around waist on top of water bottle belt.]

Three miles into the run.

Her: Okay. That’s it. I can’t take it anymore! Argh! [Delivered in a slightly grumpier tone while pulling off long-sleeved shirt and tying it less neatly around waist on top of jacket and water bottle belt.] Now I look like Paula Broadwell but with worse muscle tone!

Me: Your arm muscle tone is a paragon of perfection.

Nine miles into run.

Her: Seriously. The next time you allow me to leave my house with half of my running wardrobe on, I will kill you.

Me: I think I may have mentioned…

Her: No you didn’t. You just said, “You’re wearing a jacket?” And then I wore it. And it’s all your fault.

Me: When is our wine night again?

3. You can always do more than you think you can. Whenever you think you want to stop running, and your legs are tired, and your lungs are tired, and various parts of your body feel like they may fall off, you can keep going.

It’s crazy, but I’ve seen it happen again and again.

So hop off of this blog and go get that work done. Finish your novel or go for a bike ride or learn all about LinkedIn in a free webinar.

4. As much as everyone (including me) touts “living in the moment,” there is something incredibly satisfying about living through the moment and being finished. Hindsight is a delicious reward. For some reason, when we are finished with our run, the one where we talk constantly for an entire morning (or what feels like an entire morning), my BFF doesn’t want to hang around and talk to me more.

I’m pretty sure it’s because I stink.

But also, there is the blissful hot shower beckoning from inside the house.

And there is the satisfaction of checking that long run off the list.

Life is like that, too. Sometimes, especially if you are a storyteller, the best part is recapping the entire thing for posterity. Enhancing the best moments and editing out the less-than-stellar.

Unless your life is like DisneyWorld all the time. And in that case, I hope you continue to have a magical day.

What activity does your life most resemble? Do share. I find your comments both magical and satisfying.

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When You’re 10

The puppy-to-dog process is way, way too quick.

The puppy-to-dog process is way, way too quick.

Miles run today: 0 (long run tomorrow)

Letters received from my sister as a result of my Unofficial Handwrite-a-Letter Day: 1 (yay!)

Age of my baby today: 10

My baby girl turns 10 years old today. (Yes, if you keep up with the blog, you’re probably wondering, “Didn’t we just do this?” My son and daughter are a mere six days (and two years) apart in age.)

She has a penchant for fluffy boots and chocolate, a wildly imaginative inner world and blue eyes that can slice you in half if you aren’t careful.

Back when I was 10, my teacher was a prim, petite, older (50!) woman who tried very hard not to smile at our fifth-grade antics and mostly succeeded.

She was the architect of my first fateful newspaper project, the one that seemed to go on and on and on… and would set a weird precedent for later, more doomed newspaper projects.

She was the impetus for my first nonfiction presentation to the class in which I used a plastic Smurf sailboat to explain fore and aft, port and starboard to my classmates.

And she became the reluctant sex ed/body development teacher she never wanted to be. When one of my friends got what she thought was her period, it set off a crazed fifth-grade rumor mill and parental letter campaign that forced my teacher to address the misinformation, horror and general unrest by teaching us about our bodies long before she was prepared. I felt for her; comprehensive sex ed was not part of her repertoire.

It was a strange year.

When I was in fifth grade, the teenage daughter of another fifth grade teacher was kidnapped from the parking lot of her job at Fashion Bug.

When I was in fifth grade, I went to sleepovers that my mother cringes about to this day, where we left the house in the middle of the night and roamed the neighborhood just because. The mom was MIA.

And when I was in fifth grade, I took one of the worst class pictures ever invented in the history of class pictures that my “friends” have now posted on Facebook. Totally, gag me with a spoon.

Fifth grade was the beginning of ugly, the beginning of having to wash my hair every single day, and the end of the innocent days where sniffing smelly magic markers was the worst thing you could do. Middle school seemed far away, a distant destination that seemed both grown-up and thrilling.

For my daughter, I hope that being 10 is everything she wants it to be, full of warm hoodies and plenty of cake. And I hope that she gets to play in the snow this winter, since she missed it last winter when she was 9.

I think I know what she would say about all of that:

“I know, right?”

Buck the Trend: De-Catchphrase Yourself

The result of over-used catchphrases: she has keeled over out of boredom.

The result of over-used catchphrases: she has keeled over out of boredom.

Miles run today: 4.5

Tweets I have successfully tweeted: 4

Annoying, repetitive phrases I have spoken in my lifetime: 4,589,327

Freshman year of college was a heady time. I had a meal ticket to the college cafeteria, loads of free time and a raucous group of new friends.

We were enthusiastic, super-charged balls of frenetic energy. And we were now on our own in life.

Sort of.

Humor and shared language gained us footholds in the group, and because we were all certain we were the funniest, we borrowed catchphrases from wherever we could pilfer them.

One boy could not get over Monty Python. His conversation was positively littered with quotes from this or that scene, none of which I had watched or had any interest in watching. But I can quote them to this day, in case I run into any crazed Monty Python fans.

A cult classic from our high school years was The Princess Bride, and we knew all the good parts by heart. And had to remind each other that we did. Often.

But by far the worst offender of our freshman year was Saturday Night Live‘s “Not.”

The scene: The South Campus dorm cafeteria; the sub-par, red-headed stepchild of the university cafeterias.

The players: Eight obnoxious freshmen, one obsessed with Monty Python, one convinced Janis Joplin should still be alive, and one who could do a passable imitation of our lovable but stuffy English professor.

Quiet girl in group: Wow, this dorm food sure is amazing! It’s delicious in a way that hasn’t even been invented yet.

[Everyone looking at each other with disdain.]

All: NOT!!!!!

Loud boy: I can’t wait to get back to my room to study for Chemistry mid-terms.

All: NOT!!!!

Repeat scene each night for three months.

It became tiresome even to the participants, and we drifted away from each other out of sheer boredom.

Whether you are a traditionally social person or a person who is social via social media, catchphrases and inside jokes continue to gain us a kind of social currency.

My daughter has a new group of friends this year. One way I know that? Her catchphrase:

“I know, right?”

This catchphrase can be used in virtually any situation, which makes it both addictive and akin to nails on a chalkboard.

Scene: Dinner, candles on the table, Christmas tree flashing, Michael Buble singing about letting it snow while it’s 70 degrees outside.

Me: It’s crazy that it’s almost Christmas.

Her: I know, right?

My husband: I’m just glad I got the outside lights done.

Her: I know, right?

My son: I’m gonna go get seconds.

Her: I know, right?

Varied inflection mixes up the meaning, but we’re still left with a few eye rolls and a hope that some new catchphrase will take hold. Any. New. Catchphrase.

If you’re a Word Person like I am, and you talk to lots of people, like I do, you may find yourself picking up bad habits.

I am urging you to buck the trend. Go rogue. Avoid binders of women. Don’t even think of hash-tagging your own phrase in conversation.

And if you find yourself thinking, “I know, right?” Start singing “Call Me Maybe” to get it out of your head.

What is your favorite catchphrase? What do you wish you could stop saying?