Wednesday, October 28, 2015

RUNNING: My love/hate relationship.

So. I run. I started running for a very specific reason. The main protagonist in one of my best story ideas runs and loves it. The opening scene is kick-ass,  it opens with her running barefoot through the corridors of a space station.

If I'm going to write about running I want to know what it's really like. I hadn't run for a long, long, LONG time and I'd never enjoyed it in the past. Fortunately for me, there's a program called Couch to 5K that can baby-step a person along to running a 5K. It worked well, I ran the Gobbler Gallop last year. I left off running last winter because I have a hate/hate relationship with frigid cold and couldn't afford decent compression pants and one of those super neat face hood things that make you look like a ninja.
Gobbler Gallop 5K, November 2014

And I found it very difficult to get back to it after the winter was over. Since it warmed up enough this year I've been very sporadic about getting out there.

But I can't seem to love running. Part of the reason is I have a genetic condition called beta thalassemia minor. Short explanation, it lessens the amount of oxygen my blood carries. That sounds a bit scary, but with the minor form it's mostly an inconvenience. But I'll probably never achieve the pace I want, because my blood just doesn't carry enough oxygen when I demand more. Right now I'm sort of stalled at 13:30 on a good day.

Insert inspirational platitudes here.
This is my white belt level shirt I got when I started mixed martial arts last year. We attain belt levels and you can buy the belt if you want, but the instructors prefer the level shirts for the mat. It's hard to see the mission statement below the words martial arts. It says, "Moving Beyond Limits".

 I know I can still train up and get somewhat faster than 13:30 , but it's very slow progress, so running doesn't give me the instant gratification of martial arts or heavy weapons practice. Doing an submission hold into a take-down, punching someone in the face or landing a good roundhouse, hearing that armour ring when you land a good blow with your stick...that's all an instant gratification. Even RECEIVING all those blows is a high.

I have only once achieved a runner's high, the endorphin rush. No, wait...twice.

Chasing the dragon: dolled up like a clown to do
pell work in the back yard. Even in this get-up,
that tree never saw me coming.'s what I do like about running. It's the way I feel afterward. I feel wrung out. I feel whole-body sore and clean inside, like I've burned toxins out of my brain. I don't usually feel that way after MA class or weapons practice. Even if I'm exhausted after those sessions, I feel jittery and high, always wanting more, more, more. Sometimes I don't sleep well afterwards, because even though my body is exhausted my mind is high as balls on adrenaline.

So, this wrung out feeling I get after running, which I love, has to be achieved through thirty minutes of shoving my body over the ground and through the air for no immediate gratification and the bitch at the back of my brain HATES it. do I conquer her? I can't rid myself of her, she's part of me, she gives me courage to do other things.  How do I cage and muzzle her long enough to get what I want? How do I make myself want that wrung out feeling as much, or more, as I want my adrenaline high?

Today I tried to concentrate on improving my form. As you can see in that top picture, my form was mostly shuffling. Really that's just jogging. I need to push myself harder to maintain a more upright posture, relax my upper body, pick my damn feet up, and make my strides longer.

Science the shit out of this.

Maybe that will work. One can but try. Because the running will improve my endurance on the mat. I've achieved purple belt level and now it gets tough. No more group testing. We'll still be doing end-of-cycle checks, but they won't be for belt levels. When I go for green belt it'll be me against the class in a specific series of skill tests. I participated in someone else's test last month, as an opponent. It was really tough on him and he's fourteen year old with a black belt in another discipline.

Also I want more endurance for heavy weapons combat. That armour is fucking heavy. I sweated through a gambeson (it's like a quilted coat, it goes under everything else) last week, that's a lot of sweat. And until I really know what I'm doing I can't risk wearing anything lighter.

That's my deep dive for the today. I'm hoping the lead instructor will be teaching tonight. He just got onto the police force so sometimes he's not there, but when he is we usually have second class and that's where shit gets real and it's awesome.


  1. I understand what you are saying, I absolutely hating running my first week. The chest pain, burning in throat, and ears ringing. After a month the pain went away and now today I jump out of bed and sing my daily affirmations as I get to see all the beauty in the world as I jog to the park and back.

    Matthew Lawrence @ Kung Fu Philly

    1. For me, even after a couple years the physical act of running doesn't thrill me. But it's getting better. I don't actively hate it anymore. And I still get that wonderful wrung clean feeling afterwards, so it's worth it. I'm moving up in martial arts training, so sticking to running is essential for me.