TITLE: Not Running
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: September 11, 2008 8:37 PM
I've talked about not reading a few times [
], and even observed it
in the wild.
What about not running?
Well, I did write about my
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
Believe it or not, I have encountered Bayardesque not
running before. Soon after I went public with my intent
to run my
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.