I think one of the best ways to fight the post-wedding blues (although, maybe not, because I totally have those, which is a subject for another post when I have more tissues on hand) is to take up a new hobby after your wedding. Have something new to do to fill that time you used to spend making one hundred and eighty of whateverhtehell, and new obsessive thoughts to re-clutter your internal monologue.
Since my wedding, I’ve been getting into running.
Where did that come from? Well, first of all, running is in vogue right now. But really, it’s because I married a marathoner. I have to admit that it is embarrassing to co-opt my partner’s hobby. It feels like something an insecure teenager would do to land a man (“You like frisbee golf? I LOVE frisbee golf! I live for frisbee golf.”). I try to alleviate that guilt by reminding myself that Collin married me when I was not a runner, so if anything, it’s something an insecure twentysomething would do to keep a man, which is possibly even more lame, so forget I ever said anything.
Collin ran the Pittsburgh Marathon last May, inspiring his mother and sister and I to pledge to run a relay marathon together in the spring of 2012. After the honeymoon, Collin and I started to run together once a week or so. Here’s how those runs would go:
Collin: You’re going too fast.
Robin: Well… I feel like I’m… going insanely slow. I also feel… like my lungs… are having a knock-down drag out with my heart.
Collin: Let’s walk a bit.
Robin: How far have we gone?
Collin: .2 miles.
Robin: I hate this.
That was about three months ago. This weekend, Collin and I ran 10 miles together, with only a quarter mile walk break somewhere around the 4 mile mark. So how did that happen?
Well, the magical thing about running is that you get better at it. The initial learning curve here is astoundingly steep. Most people already know how to run and have since being a toddler. Your first few minor adjustments in form and pacing dovetail with a speedy improvement in running fitness and before you know it, you can run a 5k. Then a 10k. Then 10 miles.
And the “I just ran 10 miles!” feeling is pretty heady. The sense of accomplishment completely outweighs the sore hip flexors. [Even though a voice inside of me persists that says, "OK, awesome, I guess, but we have CARS NOW, moron."]
And then, of course, the learning curve levels out. And this is where the obsession takes hold. Have you noticed that your runner friends will never shut up about running? How we tweet every last run ["Ran .014 miles to the mailbox in the rain, felt great!"]? How we’re always bitching about some possibly-made-up part of our body being sore [our IT bands and our piriformis and our adductors] and how we need to modify our form or buy new shoes to fix it? Running takes over your brain. You chase that speedy improvement you had when you started. There is always a longer race, a faster pace.
I feel like I’m being sucked into a cult. This is even worse than when I was doing Bikram yoga, because while that was “changing my life” and starting to feel like an addiction, I always knew I’d never be all the way in the in-crowd. I’d never really believe that Eagle pose was wringing toxins out of my spine, I would never willingly swallow kombucha, I’d always be bored during final savasana. I felt safely on the outskirts of yoga, which explains why I have been easily able to resist dropping mad cash on another studio pass.
But there’s no great philosophical divide between me and other runners. There is just the matter of them all being faster than me. Which a) might change and b) doesn’t seem to matter in the first place.
I might already be a runner. An early draft of this post was called “Do Something You Hate” (in response to APW’s “Do Things That Scare the Shit Out of You” post), in which I wrote…
The thing about going for a run is that I don’t want to do it, I don’t like doing it, but I’m always glad I’ve done it. And too many “good for me” things in my life are easy: I like exercise. I think most vegetables (except you, artichoke! You’re a jerk!) are delicious. Running helps me tap into the part of myself that has to do things that I don’t want to do, and I need to keep that part of myself alive if I’m ever going to be trusted to, you know, pay my taxes or clean the bathroom.
But that’s becoming less and less applicable to how I feel about running. Sure, there are moments in every run where I think, “I hate this so much! Why oh why am I doing this?” (usually about 1/3 of the way up a hill) and there are days where I have to force myself out the door (humid days). But there are also days like today, where I can’t wait for Collin to get back from his interview so we can run together on new streets.
Does this mean that someday I’ll learn to love cleaning the bathroom and get sucked into a cult of bathroom-cleaning obsessives? Unlikely. But I’m still glad I got into running. I like that I can now do something (run ten miles) that I couldn’t do a few months ago. I like that I can still change and improve myself.
Most of all, I like feeling slightly more prepared for a zombie apocalypse.