Monday, February 18, 2013

Just Run Already!

Had them since 1988. Run in them since today.

After yesterday's thinking about running, I got up this morning expecting to be talking about something else. Yet, here I go, talking a little bit more about running. Well, sort of.

I ran the snowblower this morning after we had an inch or so of snow. I'm not allowed to shovel yet. Hopefully soon. I dressed for the task in my usual heavy coat, Bean boots, gloves and hat. Afterward, I left most of that on, grabbed a pair of FiveFingers and went off to physical therapy for an hour or so. I came home to find the dog at the top of the stairs. She was happy to see me but really, really hoping I would leave all my stuff on and take her for a walk. I obliged.

My dog is a pretty good walker. There is nothing she likes more. She likes walks more than she likes cheese or chasing squirrels. It's her thing. When we start out on a walk there is a lot of me making my little vocalizations intended to let her know that she is not going to take me for a walk. I try to be in charge. She's just excited and, after a block or two, calms down and remembers how this is supposed to work.

We walked down the street and around the corner and after a bit, I could feel that she wanted to trot but was being too obedient. She kept looking at me with the question on her face. Can't we go faster? As I said, I was dressed in a pair of heavy, tall boots. I was wearing baggy warm-up pants and a sweatshirt with a Carhart jacket over that. It's not my usual running wear. And yet off I went.

This was no training run. There was nothing beautiful about it. The dog trotted gracefully while I jogged in a way that I couldn't imagine anyone would consider graceful. Still, I was running, albeit slowly and stopping often so that the dog could sniff trees. I didn't have my GPS watch and wasn't about to pull my phone out of my pocket and track the run, but it was probably about a mile or so. At the end of it, as the dog and I walked the last block back home, I felt good, as though the run had had some effect on me.

All of this goes to show how easy it is to run and how much I complicate things. A run doesn't require much of anything. I'm not about to attempt a half-marathon in my Bean boots and carrying my phone in my pocket, but when I get right down to it, I could. There's nothing I need for running other than the desire to pick up my feet. The rest of it is just noise.

In the summer, I put this into practice pretty well. My favorite runs are when I'm wearing a pair of shorts and just take off. I don't need hats, glasses, GPS watch, shirt, heart rate monitor, or even socks and shoes. I just need myself and, for the sake of modesty, something to cover up my flopping private parts. In winter, this is more difficult to remember but today's jog shows me that I can run in most anything.

Okay, sure, but what's the practical purpose of this?

Well, for me, it's about remembering that everything is complicated until I do it. Some things remain complicated as I do them but not many. Runner's World makes all sorts of a big deal about running, training, and racing. No one needs that. They may want it, but they don't need it. (Michael Stipe sang, "what we want and what we need has been confused.")

And this all seeps into other areas of life. My daughter has wanted to rearrange her room, moving the bed and her dresser and generally shaking things up. She has asked for days to do this and both her mother and I have pushed it off saying variations of, "we're not ready to tackle that project." This morning my daughter and her younger sister just started in on it. They moved the bookshelf into the hall and slid the drawers out of the dresser. They didn't think about how hard it was going to be or what they had to do in order to prepare. They just did it. My wife and I joined in because, once it was begun, there was no longer any need to think about how it would be to try it.

My idea for the day is to stop thinking about things much before I do them. This isn't a call to laziness or avoidance of responsibility. It is instead a plan to stop worrying and start doing. Which is pretty much what I do every time I sit down for one of these essays and let myself write on.