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52 weeks: running

I haven't been keeping up with the post-a-week, but since I have nowhere near 52 weeks' worth of questions, I figure I can cut myself some slack. :) And also ask for more submissions!

The lovely deirdre_c asked me to share my most and least favorite things about running.

I explained what I love about running to one of our department's grad students, a guy who's run Boston multiple times and can do a full marathon in only 20 more minutes than it takes me to do a half, like this: it's all up to me. It might not be unique to my particular profession, but every element of my job is assessed and evaluated by other people, most of whom are removed from me in time and/or space. I can send in a journal article based on work that took two years to do and wait another year to see if the journal will accept it. Then I can wait another couple of years to see if anyone finds it useful or meaningful enough to cite in their own work. Tenure was a six-year review process that took 10 months even after turning in my file. I don't really know if I've taught anything to my students until I'm grading final exams or term papers, and I won't be able to judge how well I've mentored my graduate students until years down the line. But with running, I know right here and right now, the second I've finished, if I'm faster or have gone farther than yesterday's run. I can actually feel that I have leg muscles I didn't have two years ago. I know I'm never going to be one of the top professors at my university or in my discipline, but that's still how I'm judged: relative to other people, relative to a high bar. With running, my only judge is myself. I know I'm never going to win a race I enter, but as long as I can beat myself, as long as I can improve, that's a win for me. Instant feedback, clear-cut accomplishment: that's what I like about running.

What I don't like is that it's haaaaarrrrrrd. Mr. Z has pointed out (and I may have mentioned before) how unfortunate it is that all of my hobbies--running, quilting, and ficcing--share the downside of my job in that they're long-scale projects that have to be approached a bite at a time. Working up to 13.1 miles meant running for 6 miles, then 7, then 8...every time I started a training run, it felt like something I couldn't possibly finish. Now, even though I've run a half marathon twice, the thought of doing it again feels like starting all over, working my way back up to it. It's a big investment of time and of mental energy, is what I'm saying, above and beyond the physical energy it takes. But I know myself well enough to know that without some kind of goal, like a half marathon in May in 2:20, I'm not going to get off my ass and go running. The constant need for willpower: that's what I don't like about running.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2014 04:21 am (UTC)
Nicely said.
Feb. 8th, 2014 05:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Feb. 8th, 2014 10:22 am (UTC)
You are amazing. Just so you're aware.
Feb. 8th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
Right back atcha!
Feb. 8th, 2014 10:58 am (UTC)
How insightful! It would have been easy to reply with a sentence or two but I feel like I understand running (and you) much better with this answer.
Feb. 8th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)

Edited at 2014-02-08 10:44 pm (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes, and YES.

Feb. 8th, 2014 06:44 pm (UTC)
Good question, bb!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )