I Need a Back Up Plan

A few weeks ago I talked about my slow descent into bro-dom. I was training for a half marathon, I was drinking daily protein shakes, and I was tracking my nutrient intake. I was so excited and ready to take on the world.

Well, the descent has stopped. Last week, I injured my shoulder and upper back. No, I didn’t hurt myself during a workout or on a run. I am pretty sure I slept on my neck wrong, which makes this infinitely more infuriating.

Anyway, I went to the doctor to get some painkillers so I could actually sleep and she told me I should take it easy for a while. If I kept working out, I might just hurt myself worse.

I was on the verge of having a toddler-esque tantrum when she said that. I didn’t want to stop running and working out. I was just starting to get into a good rhythm with my running schedule and suddenly I have to stop because I accidentally slept the wrong way.

This fucking sucks.

Since I got the news I’ve been complaining a lot to my friends. Most of my friends are sympathetic, but a few have said things like, “Look on the bright side! You get a break from running!”

No, shut up. There is no bright side to this.

Of course I understand they’re trying to lift my spirits, but it’s obvious that they don’t understand why I run. Yes, I run to maintain my weight and stay healthy, but underneath all of that my real reason for running is because it helps me cope with my anxiety.

I am an incredibly anxious and controlling person. I constantly worry about the future, what I’ve done in the past, and everything in between. I’m also the kind of person that will completely take over a project because someone else isn’t doing it right. It’s my way or the highway. Yeah, I’m that asshole.

b51e77d55d22be79491f98404e6d1989Over the past few years, I’ve been getting much better at handling my anxiety because I’ve found a healthy way to work off my nervous energy: running. I like to run because it redirects all of the energy I put towards worrying towards something mindless and calming. When I’m working out, all I’m thinking about is how my body feels and moves. For a few hours, I’m not thinking about all of the things in the world I can’t control.

Well, now I can’t run and I feel like a volcano that’s about to erupt and spew crazy all over the people in my life.

Yesterday I had a crazy day. I had a lot to do at work and I had to take our ferrets into the vet and it just felt like everything was against me. I could feel myself getting tense and panicky and I couldn’t do anything about it. Michael tried to calm me down, but I wasn’t having it. All I wanted to do was go out and run or lift up heavy things or climb something, but I couldn’t.

Did I say this fucking sucks?

Yesterday evening, I kept trying to think of other things I could do to redirect my nervous energy and kept coming up blank. I’ve tried crocheting, cleaning, reading, and yoga, but nothing seems to be working. I need a back up and I don’t have one.

a4a952aa79bd0e37775e715541bd93efBasically, I just want to feel normal again. I want to go back to my normal routine. I’m tired of people telling me that I need to take care of myself. I was taking care of myself! What do they think I was doing when I was out on my runs? I was taking care of my mental state and now I can’t do that anymore because I have to take care of my body.

This sucks!

So my plan for the next few weeks is to look for something I can do that will help me take care of my mind and body. I need something that will help me work off my anxiety while not tying more knots into my back muscles.

I just want to go for a run.

-EMS

 

Running, Meditation, and Being Antisocial

I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying muay thai! Finding an exercise that you enjoy is so important. Exercise can feel like such a chore, so finding an exercise routine that’s fun makes it so much easier to stay active and healthy.

For me, my exercise of choice is running, which is very surprising considering how much I loathed running when I was a kid. I did everything I possibly could to get out of running.

I don’t know if you remember middle school P.E. class. I absolutely hated that class. I understood that it was incorporated into our education to keep us active and healthy, but the actual activities they made us do were awful. We did the pacer test, which is literally running back and forth across the gym to these timed beeps, and the mile test, which was literally us running a path around the school. These activities were boring and I was often sub par at them. As a straight-A student, getting a C on anything was absolutely devastating. No wonder I avoided gym like the plague.

In high school, I managed to get out of gym because I was in the marching band, which at Evergreen was considered a sport. I loved marching band! The activities we did like running and push-ups and marching drills had a purpose. I actually had the opportunity to engage my mind and was never given a failing grade. Marching band was infinitely better than P.E. Unfortunately, the time commitment and unavoidable drama in the marching band was what kept me from pursuing it in college. I wanted to focus on my studies and my writing, so marching band was the first thing to go. I barely exercised at all while in college and never went running. I just wasn’t motivated to go out of my way to exercise.

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Me right before my first 5k

It wasn’t until after college that I decided to give running another go. If you remember my very first post on Seven Degrees of Smudde, Acting on Impulse, I talked about how I decided to sign up for a 5k randomly. Everyone at the animal shelter I was volunteering at was talking about the race and lots of my friends on Facebook were talking about running 5ks and marathons and obstacle courses. I was feeling a little lost after graduating from college so I decided to give it a go.

One day I just started running. I ran everywhere. I ran the track at the gym, I ran the walking paths at the park, I ran the mini-track at the local elementary school. I ran in the sun, I ran in the rain, I ran at night. It became an obsession and I often felt guilty if I skipped a day.  I needed to be ready for my first 5k.

Well the 5k came and went and I still felt the need to run. Running had become an addiction. I needed to do it to feel healthy and productive. If I went too long without running, I would start to feeling groggy and weighed down. I just wouldn’t feel like myself. 

Nowadays, I try to run at least two times a week and go to the gym at least three times a week. I’ve noticed that running can do a number on your knees and ankles so I try to break up my running with other exercises, like the stair stepper or jumping jacks.

I know why I like running so much. Just like you with your muay thai, my runs are my time to get away from the world and focus 100 percent on my body. It helps me clear my head and prepare to tackle big projects, at work or at home. I can also do it at my own pace now and I’m not graded for my abilities, like I was in school. That makes running so much less stressful.

I also like running because running is one of the few activities that I can do completely by myself without seeming weird. People don’t bother me while I’m running.

Let me break it down for you.

If I go to a movie by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I go to dinner by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I sit down on the bus and open my book, people still think it’s okay to talk to me. Same goes for writing at work.

But, when you see someone running with their headphones in, you know not to bother them. They’re doing something important, something impressive, and they should be left alone. If you interrupt them they might lose their pace. No one seems to think that about reading or being by yourself. It’s only while I’m running that people aren’t bothered when I don’t stop to say hello or make small talk.

Call me anti-social, but I also like having a time during the day when I know no one will bother me. Running, to me, is the purest form of me time. A time when I can completely ignore other people, give them the cold shoulder even, and I won’t offend anyone. It’s nice to have that time set aside. It’s nice to know that I can give in to my loner tendencies during my run and no one will start talking behind my back about how rude I am.

I absolutely love running. It’s one of my favorite things.

-EMS

Why I Love Golf (I Don’t Play Golf).

Parentheses, just for you!

I’ve only been golfing once in my life.  Actually that’s immediately a lie now that I think about it, but the number is low.  I wasn’t very good.  It requires a lot of technique and practice, and my instructor wasn’t the best either.  My instructor was our grandfather, who I learned the same day was racist!  But that’s a different story for a different post.

What golf represents to me is an activity that doesn’t ask of you to be a huge, fit, or fast person.  It doesn’t ask of you to defeat many other opponents while practicing or competing.  Golf only asks of you to beat yourself.

That is what I love about it.  Maybe not necessarily the sport itself, but that concept.  I realized this while I was playing golf with Racist Grandpa that I can connect that feeling with most things I love in life.  Things that make me challenge myself, rather than challenging another person.

When I’m doing my art for work, I’m never thinking to myself, “Man, I really need to be better than Francesco Legrenzi.”  I do my craft and think to myself about how I’ll improve this render.  How to be better than I was last time.

Its the same reason I loved school so much.  Every assignment was a new chance to be better than myself.  I’d rather use myself as my bar rather than someone else.  Everyone is different and they have different journeys than you.  Some people are going to be naturally better, or naturally worse.  Is that really a fair comparison for yourself?

Monster Hunter is one of my favorite games.  The game isn’t about leveling, and it isn’t (entirely) about finding stronger equipment.  To be good at Monster Hunter you need to practice and become better.  It asks of you to be consistent and focused.  It asks you to be better than you were last time.

I never did sports in my middle and high school.  I tried out for basketball once, but I didn’t really enjoy it.  I don’t inherently enjoy competition.  Friendly competition yes, but for school teams it was so intimidating.  You had to be better than them.  They tell you to improve yourself, but so you can pummel the opponent into a crumpled form on the ground.

It doesn’t feel rewarding.  Sure, it gets your testosterone going, but for me I always felt more rewarded when I found myself getting better at things rather than being better than a different person.

I am currently taking Muay Thai Boxing.  I’ve learned a bunch, and its a really fun, albeit stupid fucking hard, way to exercise.  I’ve learned to throw kicks that would knock grown men to the ground.  I know how to throw punches.  I’ve learned a ton.  My favorite thing I can do now?

Touch my toes.

I’ve never been able to touch them.  When I practice with other students, my body gets wrecked.  Its hard, I’m gasping, and I never seem to keep up.  I have no frame of reference for my improvements because these nineteen year old boxers are way more into it than I am.

But my toes?  Those are mine.  I did that.  I did the stretches.  I practiced the moves.  And I have results that are directly related to me improving myself.  Beating myself.

Your hardest opponent should always be yourself.

-DTM

Acting on Impulse

I’ve never thought of myself as an impulsive person.

When I was a younger I was always very organized and very meticulous about how I used my time. I always had to have at least a week to study for a test and started assignments as soon as I got them. I planned out how many pages I would need to read to finish a book by a certain day and I always had my next book lined up. I was dependent on my planner.

In a way I took pride in being level-headed. People said I was responsible and dependable, which are good traits to have. Right?

Maybe, maybe not.

After I graduated from college my life became a little scattered. I’d spent more than 15 years of my life in school and I was used to it. No more homework, no more studying, no more classes. What was I supposed to do with all this free time?

Right after college I began volunteering at the local animal shelter. I helped with the shelter’s fundraisers, including the shelter’s annual 5k walk/run. I remember I was at the shelter, sitting at my desk and listening to the other volunteers talk about walking at the event. Someone asked me if I was going to register and walk.

I said no. I was going to run.

I was never a runner. I’ve always avoided running as much as I possibly could. I have no idea what came over me that made me decide to run a 5k. I was acting on impulse. Now I run three times a week and have done five more 5ks.

If I had stuck to my “responsible” behavior, I wouldn’t have even considered a 5k unless I had a year or two to train. I couldn’t just do something, I need to prepare. But you know what, if I had waited I probably would’ve never done it and I would have never discovered the joys of running.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that sometimes being “responsible and dependent” is a terrible, terrible thing. Sometimes you just need to act on your impulse.

Today my life is back in one piece. I’m still responsible and dependable, but I listen to the little impulsive voice in the back of my head. Sometimes it has terrible ideas. Sometimes it has awesome ideas.

Some recent ideas it’s had include doing a triathlon, getting a new tattoo, and starting this blog with my brother.

I have no idea where this blog is going to go. Hell, I have no idea how this post is even going to end and that’s wonderful. Sometimes it’s okay not to plan things out completely. Sometimes you just have to do it and don’t waste time worrying.

Sometimes impulse is the way to go.

– EMS