The activity formerly known as awful.

Dear friends,

After a couple of months of flat-out laziness, I vowed two weeks ago to get back in the running groove. I bought some news shoes hoping they’d put a literal spring in my step and I hit the road.

And lord was it awful.

During the first run, it was so awful I thought I would vomit. And I wanted to cry. Vomit and tears, the awful combo.

During the next run, I thought it was so awful I wanted to collapse at minute 3, and again at minute 11, and again at minute 24 and again at 29:30 when I finally gave up and walked the last 4/10ths of a mile home.

During a couple more runs, I thought it was so awful I seriously questioned why I was doing it and why I shouldn’t just throw in the towel. Lazy is as lazy does, I thought.

During another run, I thought it was so awful I might never again enjoy this thing I started doing in 1985 and have done regularly since then (where regularly equals taking a few lazy breaks and having a few lazy pity-parties now and again).

During the next run, I thought it was merely awful. (No elaboration needed.)

And after yesterday’s run, I thought to myself: Well, that was not awful.  Not good. But not awful.

By the way, awful has nothing to do with my performance in terms of time or distance. It has to do with how I feel. Awful — all 70 or so degrees of it — refers to how bad my legs hurt, how weak I feel, how taxing the hills are and how much they make me want to scream at the heavens, how bad my lungs burn, how loud I wheeze, how embarrassingly red and blotchy my face gets . . . you know — awful.

Anyway, as soon as I mentally declared yesterday’s run as not awful, I wondered what it would have been like to spend the last two weeks describing degrees of good.

As in “That run was one-part-per-million good.”

Or “That run felt really good for both of my hands.”

Or “That run felt good for exactly three minutes” or “good for nearly four blocks” or “good for the first 100 strides.”

I like to think I’m not usually a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal, but holy cow, what does it mean when I describe a part of my life in degrees of awful?

Yes, it means I’m out-of-shape. Yes, it means I’m feeling sorry for myself. Yes, it means I’ve got a long ways to go to feel comfortable and strong in my stride again. But it also means I’ve got a lesson or two to learn about finding the right attitude to conquer this thing called life.

So I snapped myself out of it and vowed to extend a little gratitude to the activity formerly known as awful.

And then I remembered that just a couple of weeks ago during a dinner party, I chided a guest for describing her running as jogging. “I’m slow,” she said. “I don’t really run. I jog.”

“Are you kidding me?” I snapped back.  “Anytime you are not walking, you are running! Give yourself credit. You could choose to walk, but you don’t. And if you’re not walking, you are running, sister!”

I’m running, baby. And it may only be 189-parts-per-million good right now, but that’s better than any part awful.

With gratitude {for any part of good I can get},

Joan, who thinks her friend Nancy is right when she said “Turquoise shoes always make you run faster”



  1. I have about the same degree of antipathy toward running. But I go out and do it most days. I’m never euphoric, I’m never even neutral — I’m usually just flat out uncomfortable. I would much rather be stretched out on my yoga mat. But, hey, I get my heart beating faster, I pound on my old bones, and I wave at the others on the trail who are possibly equally unhappy.

  2. I don’t believe I have room for much of a rational weigh-in on this topic. I walk or swim to get my heart going, I don’t run. I have my reasons. And even with my less-strenuous than running regimes, I have my lazy spells. Like right now.

    So describing what you are doing, as long as you are doing ANYthing, looks like a win from here. (plus, seriously, those hills you are running…yee-ikes!)

    Turquoise shoes are full-on fabulous but I like orange just as well!

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