Just Keep Running

Running Molly

From 2009- I can keep a smile on my face for the first mile.

I have a love/hate relationship with running.  For a long time it was mostly hate.  At my high school if you were a senior and went out for any sport you could automatically ‘letter’ in it without having to make varsity or even be good at it.  My older sister turned me on to this (although she is a natural athlete).  I think she found out about it when she was looking for ways to fluff out her college applications.  I can’t really remember her reasoning (hopefully she reads this and pipes in!).  I decided I would go out for track.  My close friends were on the track team so I was already hanging out at the meets.  I figured I might as well get a uniform and a letter out of it.

During my entire high school career I took dance lessons after school.  Neither my sister nor I had the classical “dancer’s build” yet we trained like we were going to become professional dancers.  My sister who is tall, muscular and lanky was too tall to make it as a ballerina and I was too ‘big’.  Primarily we focused on modern dance.  My junior year I developed tendinitis in both ankles.  To alleviate the pain my doctor would inject cortisone into my tendons.  He said that what I really needed was to give my legs a break.  Now here’s the kicker….I often wanted to quit dancing.  I was not the most active or energetic teenager but somehow being told by a doctor that I needed to take a break made me want to keep dancing!  Mike has often said to people, ‘If you want to get Molly to do something tell her she’s not allowed to and she’ll have to prove you wrong’.

My senior year also meant I could take dance classes at the university.  The teachers were awesome and the students were dedicated (again, my sister figured this out the year before).  I promised my doctor that  if he could just get me through this last year of dancing that would be it.   I was giving up dancing for good!  I was going off to art school which would soon be followed by an apprenticeship with a famous fashion designer and then on to my own fame.  I wouldn’t have time to dance!  He agreed…..one more year of dancing and if I didn’t quit he was going to cast both ankles for 8 weeks!

On the first day of track practice I drove up to the field.  As my track coach described later to a group of parents, ‘She arrived in a scrappy orange VW Thing with a bowl of dust surrounding the car.’  My friend introduced me to the coach.

The coach asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’

‘Discus and shot put…..I don’t run.’ I replied

‘What do you mean you don’t run.  This is track.  We run here.’

‘Don’t box me in man, I’m an artist and anyways I can’t.  I have tendinitis (and I have to save my legs for the dance classes I take every day).’

‘Oh…alright, discus and shot put it is!’

After I graduated I did give up dancing for two years.  My ankles recovered.  When I returned to the dance world I realized that I may not have the build for a dancer but I could be a 400 pound chain smoker and still be a great dance choreographer.  Choreography became my new calling.   Even with my newly relaxed physical requirements I knew I ought to keep in shape.   Running was the fastest way to lose weight and stay fit.  Occasionally I would try it out with a tiny bit of enthusiasm (400lb chain-smoking Molly was a calling I had a hard time giving up).

I ran pretty regularly on a treadmill in my late 20’s.  Never really pushing myself past mile 3.  It was drudgery but at least it was over quickly and the results were great.  Years passed and Mike’s mom came to visist.  She had just taken up running.  She did it with the help of a book called ChiRunning which she promptly gave me.  It changed my entire approach to running.  I improved my technique and running became more enjoyable.  As an added plus choreographer Molly could critique Mike’s stride.

My biggest challenge with running is overcoming my brain conversation.

I’m feeling like I’m running out of air

That’s because you are!  There’s no oxygen up here!

Other people run just fine.  Look at that guy over there, he’s not about to faint….I’m about to faint.

Your brain needs oxygen!

Oh right, breathe…..breathe…..breathe…..Shite!  Here comes a hill.

God, remember you hate hills.

But I need to love the hills

You hate hills

Love the hill


Love……this isn’t so bad

It’s bad


Did you just shush me!

Mike has often been surprised that I ever get off the couch with the kind of conversations that go on in my mind.  It’s as if I’m wired to be a couch potato and yet…. I exercise.  I’ll credit my hyper-active outdoorsy mom with this one.

A friend once told me his grandfather (who started running at 60) would start each run with one intent,  ‘just get your running shoes on’.  It can be the biggest hurdle.  I’ve had plenty of runs where I’m proud that I just got my shoes on that day!

I love my lady lumps but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found my weight slowly creeps up and not back down.  Just over a week ago I  jump started my weight loss program by increasing my exercise and cutting my calories back.  More water, veggies, exercise and smaller portions of food is my secret formula.  Yes, I have to either skip my afternoon cookie or make it a small one.  My other weapon is using a free online diary to count my calories and track my exercise ( I’ll gladly workout for several hours just so I can have a piece of cake!).  I’ve found that my food intake drops by 10%  automatically when I track my eating.  My friend and hiking buddy Juliette is doing it too.  She’s using Livestrong’s free online diary. My other girlfriend Zumba Jackie is an Zumba instructor (hence the name).  We trade for classes and she even drives me there!  It helps to have support.

Molly:  Goodbye lady lumps!

Mike:  But I like your lady lumps.

Molly:  I know, honey, but it’s for my health…did you just grumble at me?!

I”m back on the road.  I’m in training you know.  It’s tough as always.  Trying to get through the first mile without walking.  I like to go out 1.5- 2 miles and run as much of it as I can.  I’ve always been better at running away from home.  The way back can seem interminably long so I end up walking, getting impatient so I start running… I get tired so I start walking…  Within a month I’m running the full 3-4 miles.

It turns out that I am an awesome downhill runner.  I’m almost always up for a run…. if  it’s downhill.  When we take the dogs out for a hike Mike and I will run the downhill parts.  I turned Juliette onto downhill running and she went from a running hater to devout practitioner.  Damn I’m good.  I’m starting a movement (downhill).

What do you do to keep healthy?  Do you have any advice for my brain?

Here’s some other bloggers’ thoughts on exercise:

The Little Hen House, Breaking a Sweat

Sustainable Life Blog, Fitness Goals  

Lori Dyan, Revenge of the Slow Fat Triathlete


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