On Running & Discomfort
Because I have anxiety, this means that above all else, my favorite response and coping mechanism to life’s problems is avoidance.
Avoid conflict. Avoid distress. Avoid stress itself. Avoid trying. Avoid upset. Avoid changing the rules or routine.
This is all in service to keeping anxious feelings and panic away. AVOID/BEWARE/STOP/NO
It’s not any wonder that I find examples of What Not To Do highly instructive.
Anyway, how did I become someone who likes running, then? In my 36th year of life, to be specific, after 35 years of hating the guts of running. (I even hated running as a little kid, btw).
Discomfort is part of running. The first bit of running – five minutes, one mile, half an hour, even runner I know has a different metric of how long The Suck lasts – is uncomfortable. It feels shitty and it feels like you are embarking on something insane and pointless, and it feels like it’ll never be over, so why start?
And yet, I do it. And other people do it. And why? Why in the hell?
I can’t speak for other people, but I run because avoidance isn’t the only coping mechanism I should have. Avoidance shrinks your life down until it’s coffin-sized. Certainty makes you into a person who is annoying as fuck. And boring.
I am drawn to people who are wild and spontaneous and who make me a bit uncomfortable. I am drawn to people who are messy and sloppy. I am drawn into their reality; it means we can live our lives a little ragged and unhemmed. I can stop with my goddamn rules and just kind of splatter and those people won’t care. These wild spontaneous people smile and love me and won’t ask me to do anything more than I can.
So, I run. Everything bounces, sweat gets in my eyes, it hurts. There’s no purpose, really. I never lose any weight and I don’t win races and I never seem to get faster. But good things happen in my head while I’m doing it. Good things happen in my head after I’m done, too.
It’s a gamble every time I go out, whether anything good will come of this discomfort. And it’s clearly a lesson I need to learn over and over.