Sunday, February 14, 2016

Loving 'Mil-dread'

Tamara and I after last Sunday's run
*disclaimer: I realize not everyone houses a TM in their dining room or basement, as is more common amongst fitness enthusiasts. This post, as with all of my other 
natter-ings in no way judges you and your choices and habits, it simply tells the story of my life and the way I live it. Run on friends whether it be on the roads or the TM. 

Rebuild 2016 is going well. My hip and back pain are under control which has made running less of a chore than it had become. I am keeping the kilometres low, cross training and doing strength work. I would like to brag about how sensible, patient and reserved I am being, but the reality is, just this week I graduated to running the entire 5k without walk breaks so at this point, I couldn't be wild and dangerous with my running if the devil himself was chasing me. My fitness has taken a blow over the past 6 months, so this really is a rebuilding period. At one time, this would have shamed me but today, all I see when I fix my gaze and all I hear playing over and over in my head is 'strength'.
I don't care if right now my 'long' run is only 10k. That 10k isn't flipping to 11 until I feel good about each and every kilometre I run. When my watch reads 11k it will be because I am strong enough to do it. It won't take long, things are feeling better each week.

Running without a coach and without a big goal race has me feeling a little bit lost but each Sunday I make my plan for the upcoming week with my friend Tamara and right now, that is all the looking ahead I need. The most difficult part of 'no coach/no plan' is that it's February in Ontario which means winter. We have been fortunate to have enjoyed unseasonably warm weather for this time of year, until this weekend when ridiculously low temperatures have hit. I see your posts on social media with your eyelash frozen and icicles hanging from your beards and I say 'good for you' but not for me. There is nothing that will get me out there to run in -30C and fortunately for me, I have 'no coach/no plan' to make me feel like I have to put on my arctic running suit which includes ski goggles and a balaclava, to tolerate the conditions to get it done. I don't know if it's age or injury that has me seeing things so clearly and causing me to say 'WTF, why?'.
Last winter in -20something...WTF? Why?
In my heart I know least I know why I was out there. For me it was a refusal to do those runs on a treadmill...and for the badass Instagram post...but mostly because of the treadmill dread...ok, ya, it was the ensuant winter warrior photo. There was a time when I said some pretty mean things about the assistive running device in my dining room-which long ago was cleverly converted into a home gym. I say cleverly because, a) it really was an unused space because we don't dine and we don't entertain and b) now I have no formal space to dine and entertain, so crafty of me, don't you think.
I was a treadmill hater. When I became a committed runner (and not in the sense of 'committed' to an institution, although some non-running shoe wearing folks may say all runners should be 'committed'), it seemed like treadmill bashing was the thing to do. It seemed un-organic, almost blasphemous to say you ran on the TM, in which case, you just wouldn't say and instead post a cute pic of your running shoes...or your cat or better still, your cat with your shoes.
What cats think TMs are for
(spot the yet to launch Kinvara7's)
The longer you run and the wiser you get, whether that wisdom is brought about by age or by injury, you become your own runner. Once you transcend to this sought after level of being, you don't give a damn about what the others find acceptable and you just do you. This is the same place where you can honestly embrace the idea that you are your only competition. Words, not only to run by, but to live by.
When I was in my 'committed runner' infancy, I bought a TM because contrary to the TM snubbing that I saw around me, the reality was I worked 12 hour shifts, days and nights and I live in a rural area, which translates into a lot of darkness in the winter months. If I was going to get my runs done, they needed to be done in my dining room...on the TM. When I found her on sale in Canadian Tire, it wasn't love at first sight because I was not attracted to TMs at all, I was attracted to the long and winding road, or at least that's what popular running culture told me I was attracted to, so I brought her home with ambivalence, which looking back was the wrong way to start a relationship. I set her up, converting her imperial miles to kilometres because I can't do the math at the best of times let alone when I am using all my brain power on leg turnover. I sneered at her as I climbed aboard for the maiden voyage and before I settled the emergency stop magnet into place on the console, I christened her with splashes of Gatorade and dubbed her, 'Mil-dread'.
'Mil-dread' and I making peace
Over time I uttered and publicly posted many unflattering things about 'Mil-dread' for which I am sorry for, a day when I have no reason and 'no coach/no plan' for which I need to step one foot outside, never mind one foot in a light flimsy sneaker and my arctic running suit, in the sub, sub-zero temperature to walk/run 10k. No way, not for all the likes and comments in all of social media. I am not bad ass and I don't want to be 'committed'. What I am is content and grateful to have 'Mil-dread' in my life. Age and injury have changed me and on this cold, long run Sunday, which also happens to be Valentine's day, I publicly and without runner's shame profess my love and appreciation to the one who has always been there in the background waiting for me in the dimly lit dining room, without judgement...'Mil-dread'.
'Mil-dread', I am sorry. Will you be my Valentine?
in honour of Skechers athletes Kara and Meb