Friday, March 7, 2014

Night Running

The Moon Is Your Friend
The goal this year is to run 100 miles every month, which is enough miles to be Significant, but not so much as to qualify as training for a marathon. (Why am I not training to run a marathon? Because it just seems like it will cause more problems than it might, um, solve. At least this year.) Last year, the goal was 90 miles every month, and I hit it in 11 of 12 months, so this isn't exactly coming from nowhere... but it's also coming at a time when The Day Job is exploding on time commitments, the kids and spouse require more and more use of the single car (which means that running in the gym is not always an option), and in the middle of the dog breath of all dog breath winters.

But, well, it's been a dry frigid for the better part of a week now, and running outside is just so wildly preferable to gym work. Treadmills are just dull as dirt (running with headphones in is something I just don't prefer; it prevents me from zoning out and getting those dopamine thrill thoughts that are so good at killing depressive jags) and do bad things to me, because I wind up running faster than good form will allow to get it over with. Running on the track is like roller derby, because bovine people can't seem to get the idea of a slow lane, and eventually they all clog together and there's only so much wedge busting that I want to mix into my cardio. But just hitting the roads in my suburban neighborhood? Useful. Especially when your smartphone can double as your pedometer. (Having a smartphone means that I can call for help if something bad happens, right? Oh, the responsibility.)

There's a connection, and a feeling of being present, when you run an area alone. You notice details on houses and areas that you just never catch while driving, because, well, driving is all about other cars, and bicycling is pretty much the same. You see how many homes appear to be deserted, for sale, in disrepair or dramatically better than your own place. I also try to avoid sidewalks (way too many potholes and trip points), possible black ice moments, or water that could ruin my shoes, so it's a bit of an obstacle course... and eventually, you find yourself in some deserted cul de sac, wondering if you're going to activate a dog or paranoid homeowner. Hey, at least I'm not running in Florida, or While Black.

But the optimum place to run, especially at night, is a decent sized park. There's one about 2.5 miles from my house, which is to say, when I'm more or less fully stretched and lost in my own metronome.

Here's where the risk / reward is at its peak. There's silence, no cars to worry about, nothing to keep you from that optimal runner high / zone-out moment that leads to big mile counts and future days off because the monthly total gets taken care of in less days... but you are also, well, at risk for all kinds of horror movie moments and what was he thinking epitaphs. It's not like my local park has significant wildlife or predators, but it's also, well, not lit and unoccupied. Though with any kind of moon and the reflective power of the remaining snow, it really doesn't need lights.

At some level, serious fitness training has a knife edge of selfishness and virtue to it. I run because not running is worse for my mindset and my body, and it's not good for my family to put up with That Guy... but I'm also spending an ever-increasing amount of time doing something entirely solitary. And I'm usually OK with that, because, well, that's just how I'm wired, and the story that I'm telling myself by being Death's Bitch with the fitness is that I'm putting off the time when my kids don't have their father. That's how this works, right? If I just run enough, I don't die? Because not dying is kind of important.

Anyway... 8 miles in 80 minutes tonight, if the pedometer can be trusted. 226 for the year, enough to take tomorrow off for Poker Fun. And who knows, some of them might not even require a hat, hood, gloves and coat. Forward.

1 comment:

CMJDad said...

You do know that the park closes at sundown, right? Thus the no lights thing, although that never stopped me in the (distant) past.

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