Saturday, September 18, 2010

Running in Circles

"When in trouble,
When in doubt,
Run in circles,
Scream and shout!"

I am not sure to whom I should attribute this fine adage; however, it seems to fit my current affinity for running perfectly. First, let me set your minds at ease. No, I have not relapsed into my panic attack phase. Praise be to my Heavenly Helper, I have only had brief visitations of anxiety lately. Truth be told though, a return to exercise probably does have a little bit to do with this happy fact. Speaking of exercise, today's saying--albeit trite--describes a great experience I had at the track last week.

The track has been a real God-send. You see, I have discovered something about myself. I am not a home exerciser. I will always find something else "more important" to do, and I am very easily distracted. Even if I've started on a planned workout, I will give it up at the drop of a hat. Inevitably , one of the children wakes up; or the phone rings; or the washing machine starts clunking in the middle of the spin-cycle, and threatens to take off of it's own accord, if I don't go down and balance the load.

Consquently, I started looking for another way to get out of the house and exercise. The aerobics classes earlier in the year were wonderful, and I may try to get back to them eventually; but right now, I can't afford to pay for classes. I needed something close, and preferably free. That's when I found out my Alma Mater had an indoor track on the third floor of their new gym (well, new since I went to school), and Alumni could use it for free. This gym is about two minutes from the house. Problem solved.

So how does the adage fit in, you ask? Well consider. "When in trouble . . ." Back in December, I was at a turning point. I was either going to resign myself to the weight gain that just kept happening, or I was going to REALLY lose the weight. I was on the edge of an obese lifesyle and health problems galore. I'd call that trouble.

"When in doubt . . ." Stress. Stress is a big contributor to a lot of bad things. For me, patterns of emotional eating, insomnia, negative thinking, and panic could all be traced back to stress in one form or another. Honestly, I believe that if it had not been for the presence of regular exercise--and God--last spring, I would have succumbed to my anxiety problems a whole lot sooner. On the days that I had an aerobics class scheduled, in the thick of the day's battle, I looked forward to the exercise like it was cake and ice cream.

Why? Well, I think, perhaps, the following elements had something to do with it: removal from the scene of the stress, an increase in seratonin uptake resulting from the exercise, and mental solidarity. I had to leave home to go to aerobics; home was where I was caring for six children under the age of four, five days a week. When I got done with the exercise, no matter how hard the day had been, I felt 95% better and able to go home and enjoy the evening (until I had to think about the morning). As for mental solidarity, I was caught in a multi-tasking vortex. To be able to involve myself in something that required my complete and singular focus, was extremely theraputic.

So this is where we get to "running in circles." Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I enjoyed running. For any of you folks out there who believe whole-heartedly in the doctrine of cessation (basic jist: certain spiritual gifts such as propheticism, speaking in tongues, and miracles, no longer apply) I'm about to blow a whole in your catechism; because me LIKING TO RUN is a modern-day miracle. I'm telling ya', it rates right up there with Mary's face showing up in pizza pan. If you don't believe me, ask my high school P.E. instructor.

I hated running. I hated running because I was already awkward, and running around panting and sweating did not exactly improve the self-image issues going on. I hated running, because we had to run around the outdoor track. In the center of the outdoor track, boys were playing sports. I hated running, because my sports gear was not up to par, and stuff bounced. Stuff bounced while the boys were playing sports and occassionally looking--boys that I had to see next hour in U.S. History.

There you have it. Me, liking to run, is a MIRACLE. I actually LIKE to run around and around and around the track. I like to see how many times I can do it, before I have to call it quits. I like to plan how I'm going to go farther next time. Granted, there are no boys playing sports while I run (but even if there were, they'd be down three stories) and let's just say that sports gear for women has improved a lot in the last twenty or so years.

Now we get to the "scream and shout" part. On Thursday last week, I ran three miles in thirty-two minutes. For me, this is an accomplishment. Again, I have to transport myself back to high school. P.E. was not my favorite subject. In other subjects, I could study hard and do well; in P.E., it didn't matter how hard I tried, I just didn't excell. In fact, I outright flunked tennis. I had a depth perception problem that had not yet been diagnosed (hence, much of the awkwardness, tripping on sidewalk cracks, falling off curbs, etc), and I could not hit that stupid ball to save my life!

Then there was the President's physical fitness test. To get the award, you had to run the mile in 8 minutes 30 seconds (I think). I tried and tried, and finally, on the last day, I did it. I'll never forget my P.E. teacher, standing there with the stop watch, jumping up and down. I was so excited. But I couldn't do a pull-up--one stinking, lousy, good-for-nothing pull-up. So there went the award. No screaming. No shouting.

Thursday, when I got done running my three miles, I was having a private party on the third floor. Then, who should I see three floors down, doing the same thing she'd been doing almost twenty years ago--but my former P.E. teacher. Suddenly, I really DID want to scream and shout. I wanted to yell "Hey down there! Check it out!"

Sigh. Alas, I wanted to continue using the gym in the future, so I restrained myself and kept the party private. On the way home, I contemplated next Tuesday's meeting; I fully anticipated reaching my fifty pound goal! Apparently, something good actually can come from running around in circles. Who'd have thunk?


  1. You are so inspiring Sarah! Keep it up friend :-)

  2. Wow...your description of high school P.E. was *spot on*. I feel that pain. :P