TITLE: Not Running AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 11, 2008 8:37 PM DESC: ----- BODY: a run on the trails I've talked about not reading a few times [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], and even observed it in the wild. What about not running? Well, I did write about my lost summer. That's the bad kind of not running: not running because you can't. I've been doing too much of that this year. It's not ironic or humorous in Bayard's sense; it's just sad. Believe it or not, I have encountered Bayardesque not running before. Soon after I went public with my intent to run my first marathon, a mathematician friend publicly announced that he had embarked on the arduous task of not running a marathon before he turned 40. I am happy to say that he succeeded to the fullest extent of his dream. However, this past weekend, I saw him laboring across a local bridge in what must be called at least a trot. He is certainly now not not running, and perhaps is even entertaining the idea of not not running a marathon. There is no cache in that. In all seriousness, there are several good kinds of not running. Sometimes we cross train, which means to do another form of exercise instead of running. This allows us to develop strength or stamina, or maintain our habit of exercising, without stressing our running muscles. At other times we go all the way and rest. Sometimes, our body needs time off to recuperate and rebuild damaged muscle. Other times, our mind needs rest, time away from the stress of meeting a goal or pushing the body to its limit. (Crosstraining is a form of rest, too, but only for the part of the mind and body that runs.) Finally, we may choose not to run for a very good reason. I don't have a pithy name for this; I think of it as not running toward a goal. In the last weeks before a marathon, we taper, that is, we cut our mileage way back. It's rest with a specific intent: to prepare the body for the race. In the final week, we may not run at all. When I have a bad hamstring, I choose not to run in order that I might heal. This is different than rest, because my mind and body may very much want to run. But I tell it to wait, so that more running doesn't make the injury worse. I have learned that there is something in between bad not running and good not running. A few months ago I was able to say that I run again, but that was true only in the simplest sense: After not running for a few weeks, I pulled on my shoes and shuffled along the trails and roads around town. But I am still not running in the fullest sense: regular miles, regular speed, regular workouts. Only in the last week have I "run" run -- on Sunday, a 10-miler in which I pushed hard for two miles in each half of an out-and-back course, and last night, an 8-miler over which I maintained the pace of those four miles for the full 67+ minutes on the university's indoor track. (Cute girls and young male speed demons motivate even old fogies like me.) Now I can only hope that my body doesn't balk in the next few days with a full set of symptoms. I'm happy for now to be in between. -----