I dreamt about running. As in – a “please-don’t-wake-me-from-this-incredible-dream-dream!” I felt like Jake Sully in Avatar, when he learns to use his big blue legs for the first time and feels the earth beneath his gigantic blue feet. That’s what I felt in my dream. And I was running in a game reserve. And there were wild animals around every corner and I loved the thrill of the wind in my face and the dirt on my legs and the tension and release of each muscle as I moved with the terrain. The song on my iPod was Young The Giant’s My Body, which is my fitness song for the year and it was perfect. My body tells me no, but I won’t quit, ‘cos I want more. Young The Giant - My Body
It was an awesome dream. I was a supreme athlete in my dream.
The reality, however, is a stark contrast. I plod and I pant and I don’t see animals any wilder than a Labrador or a tabby cat. It’s not glamorous what I do, nor is it even fun. Plus, in my dream I ran for ages, (or so it felt,) but in reality I am averaging about two kilometres these days. I was meant to be running five by September (which is next week!) That was the goal at least.
But I think I can give myself a break. I am not a natural runner. Nor am I a natural athlete in any sport. Except swimming, perhaps. But I am trying. God knows, I really am. I think so many sceptics in my life are surprised by the fact that I still get up, every second day, don a pair of tackies and one of my two running/gym t-shirts and off I go. Still, it hasn’t been easy.
I think it is more about the break from home life and some ‘me time.’ Mothers crave this more than I think they even crave sleep. (Although, given my whopping three hours of the latter last night, I may be wrong about that!) BUT we do need a break. I keep telling myself that. And exercise is a healthy break. Some woman would choose a cup of coffee and a slice of cake instead of a sweat session and who am I to judge? I am often that woman wanting a slice of cake. In fact, I might have some later.
I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined myself wanting to – choosing to – run. I used to tell people it was against my religion to sweat unnecessarily. (Hence all the sceptics, I suppose.) But I need you to understand what its like for me. As a novice runner, beginning and learning as I go, I often feel like my feet are lead. Yes, lead. And then the lead spreads up my legs to my knees and hits them hard. It’s awful. But I remember from my days of long distance swimming, that you have to push through that and then you break out on the other side with a fit of energy. Which is true in the pool/dam/lake and true on the road, or at least that’s what I have found.
The flipping up-hills surrounding my house don’t help – because every where you look, you find another one and there simply is no other way to get home than to tackle either route a) the gentle gradient that lasts half a kilometre or so, or route b) the bitch of a slope that kills your bum and lasts a mere two-hundred-meters-but-feels-like-at-least-five-times-that-length. So I consider my little plod a battle of the mind as well. Every time I tackle one of those hills I remember my friends who have braved the Comrades Marathon and think, Why would anyone do that?
So what is it like then? You all know what its like to hear a song that you love on the radio, and turn it on loud, and if you’re in a car, you gently press the peddle down a little harder and drive a little faster. It’s liberating. Often it reminds us of a time when we were younger, free-er and a lot more fun. Well, at least it does in my case. Music does that to me. And when I break through and the lead drops off my feet and ankles and knees, that’s what it feels like.
Even though these days I prefer folksy music with a good tune, to my former electric music with a good beat; I have the perfect running playlist worked out on my iPod. And despite everyone telling me that I shouldn’t run with speakers in my ears, I do. And I love it. I think that is half the reason I still motivate myself to go. It is an escape to the place where I can listen to whatever I like, at whatever volume I like and sing along, (or pant along, as is often the case,) and spend twenty minutes or so with me: the free, fun, young Navi-version of myself. The one I see when I dream about me. She’s cool. And most importantly, I have won a battle against the lazy, humdrum, woman who chooses to sit on a couch watching television, letting her better-self melt away one day at a time. Because that could so easily be me. And so often has been me. And tomorrow, when it’s a choice between tackies or telly, I really hope that the runner-wannabe in me wins the battle again. For lots of reasons. But mostly, because I’ve just downloaded some seriously good music to run to.