In a recent issue of Runner’s World, I read an article by Vanessa Williams on the different types of runners – and I discovered, to my eternal mortification, that I am a ‘Whinger’.
And I quote: “For you, running is a way to escape your screaming kids, nagging husband, and that project deadline.”
Now, to be fair, that’s not exactly how I would say it. My kids aren’t screamers, and my husband isn’t a nagger. But it’s a big thumbs up on the deadline avoidance.
It goes on to say: “You spend every training minute complaining – to the unfortunate soul running next to you – about everything from the price of baked beans to that sly fox at the office who robbed you of your promotion; from those pesky cyclists who think they own the road, to your dog’s phantom pregnancy.”
And that’s really where I found myself. And I cringed. Not because I complain about the price of baked beans (mostly I complain about my tired legs, I’m guessing there aren’t too many runners who eat baked beans before a run, the consequences could be dire!), or the sly fox at the office (the only sly fox in my ‘office’ is the cat who steals my chair every time I jump up to make myself a cup of coffee), or those pesky cyclists … ok, so I do complain about the pesky cyclists, but only because my husband is a pesky cyclist 🙂
I cringed because, for me, running is therapy. Which makes the poor soul running alongside me a therapist. Despite the fact that he or she is more likely in IT sales, or accounting, or insurance. Or sometimes even waterproofing manufacturing. (True story, that’s my cycling husband. And he is back on the road.)
And for this, I sincerely apologise to all of those who selflessly run alongside me. I don’t mean to be a whinger. I don’t even like the word ‘whinge’. It sounds small and high-pitched.
My problem is that running is my way of decompressing.
I think of my brain as a kind of balloon – although I like to think that it is filled with more than just air. The more stuff that gets shoved in, the bigger it gets, the thinner and more delicate the plastic outer becomes, the closer to the Big Bang we all get.
Fortunately, because the stuff inside my head isn’t of global importance, I can afford to let it out. And that is precisely what I do while I run. Cycling husband arrived home late from outride, resulting in everyone being late and frantic on first day back at school. Small moan. Pressure decreases from 5 bar to 4.5 bar. Child lost water bottle at school? Sigh. Accompanied by nods of understanding, and story about disappearance of entire tog bag plus school shoes and blazer. Perspective gained, pressure at 3.5 bar. Client nagging for copy that should have been submitted last week? Countered by fact that running partner has to deal with a complete IT system failure at a major bank.
I can almost feel my head deflating.
At the end of 45 minute run, my brain is back to normal. And importantly, I won’t scowl at my cycling husband as he walks in the door at 6:30pm, for something he did 12 hours ago and really doesn’t remember, and really didn’t do on purpose. I’m also slightly calmer about the missing water bottle. Even though it is one of the expensive spray ones. We do have 97 replacements in the sports bottle drawer. (Yes, we have a whole drawer dedicated to rehydrating!) And I might even get started on the overdue copy. Although…. that’s probably less likely.
The thing is, now that I recognise my tendency to be a ‘Whinger’ (cringe!), what do I do? I have tried to Shut Up and Run. And trust me, when I’m just attempting to run up Horrible Hill home without spitting out a lung on the pavement, I do. But as soon as I regain my breath, I start talking again.
You see, for me, meeting a friend for a run is pretty much the same as meeting a friend for coffee. Except without the table and chairs. And the temptation to order cake. Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the cake!