Saturday, March 14, 2015

Closing the Philosopher Runner Blog

  I have been fortunate to host this blog for a few years now.  Before this space I wrote on Xanga and before that one was GeoCities.  Each time I changed blogs it was a turning point in my life that closed one chapter in the hope of writing a better one.  I have met a lot of wonderful people through this blog and now its time to turn onto the next chapter: longevity.
  When I began this voyage I hated running.  I ran because my goal was to complete a full ironman and there were too many reports about sharks in the waters off of San Clemente; so instead of a wetsuit I picked up a pair of shoes.  I ran to escape the demons that plagued me for 8 long years that did not allow my life to move forward.  I ran because I was angry at me for being me.
  So I pushed through the garbage inside and found a beautiful running community.  There are so many wonderful stories out there I simply never heard because I was focused on my issues and my goals to notice.  Some of those people are still in my life and others have drifted towards their own happy place.  I gained a love for the suffering that comes along with distance running completing marathons, 50 milers and even a few 100 mile races.  
  But, the place I deposited my emotion became the goal in itself.  I was left with no place to escape.  The last few months I've been sidelined with a tendonitis issue that I cannot shake.  I have gotten out of shape and miss the smell of the morning on the trail.  No races, no starting line, just the smell of sunlight over the hills.  So, starting a new chapter to chronicle reaching a few running goals I have left n the list.  I won't reveal all of them but one of them does involve running through Death Valley at some point.  More than any goal  I just want to run happy again and feel the strength of my own smile.  
  So this blog that was so fueled by anger and rage will close.  I will focus on a different project @ where I hope to keep things simple and start again with a little more experience and hopefully a little more love.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Treadmill

  I have a healthy relationship with fitness but an unhealthy relationship with gyms.  It really baffles me why I simply can't get over it and learn to love the idea of needing to pay a company to motivate me to move, but like all takes time to see the silver lining.
  I have been sidelined with an injury since Oct 2014 and it has been a steady increase in weight and frustration at my inability to get moving.  The old achilles tendonitis was simply the effect of too many hills and not enough sleep.  But, I am getting married in August so I need to hit the ground running again...enter the gym.
  I joined 24 hour fitness so I could use their pool.  Its a 25 yard lap pool and since my avg visiting time to the gym is 11:30 pm its generally free of people and I can just go in there and do my thing which at this point feel like a lot of catching my breath and resisting the desire to purchase floaties.  Swimming is way harder than I thought and it finishes with me being nice and tired and able to get 8-9 hours of sleep.
  I am thus learning to like the gym a little more now.  I am not as angry when I drive there and I view it as a part of my fitness rather than all of it.  Thinking about the room full of sweaty people as a meaningful part to reaching my goal of getting back to the trails has softened heart towards it.  Who knows I may end up liking this place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Benefits Of Letter Writing

There is a palpable pleasure when I let it go.  The crisp edge promise something meaningful within and with a light flick of the wrist it is gone into the blue.  There is a moment of hesitation when trust must take the place of any doubts that my words may or may not have contained.  The sliding sound coming to an end is permanence and I am stuck with my opinion.  Once the letter is in the mail I am committed to the content as its creator and the intended recipient is trusted not only to understand but also to hopefully appreciate it.

Hermes Rocket
The art of the letter, in my opinion, is trust and commitment in paper form.  The sender cannot rely on interpretation or body language to know how their words came across.  Was it offensive?  Did I say something mean or will my words get twisted into falsity?  And, will the recipient understand.

I get genuine pleasure from writing letters to friends and family.  I attended a boarding school for my first three years of High School.  In the late nineties the internet was still dominated by AOL and dial-up.  During this time any message I wanted to send to my girlfriend was over the phone or via letter.  Sixty young men vying for 1.5 hours of authorized phone time meant we all became avid letter writers.  I'd spend hours thinking of how to best compose the letter so it expressed the precise message I wanted to convey.

The process of letter writing has not only benefited my impersonal written communication but helped me organize my thoughts.  In regular high schools deliberate speech and clarity were uncommon.  Individuals I interacted with were just “too busy” to consider what they said and how they said it.  This overall sense saw the rise to the “politically correct” movement of the late 90s which made every statement subject to scrutiny.  We had to make sure our opinions were neutral, unoffensive and peaceful.  Naturally the response to this movement was the extremist view that dominates several groups and media outlets to this day.  

Smith-Corona Silent Super
Somewhere along the line we forgot to think of why we choose particular words.  Every person is entitled to their opinion and “freedom of speech,” but that freedom now assumes that individuals can run their lips without considering the words that rush out.  We forgot that our speech may be questioned and we should probably have a reason why we say what we say.  Those reasons should be articulated so as to be understood.  Maybe if we at a minimum make a mental note the benefits of letter writing could still shine through and make us more intelligible, respectful and honest in our interactions with others. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thank You Achilles Tendonitis

I cannot remember the last time my feet touched the floor in the morning without feeling pain.  Every morning the stretch of the Achilles tendon would serve to either keep in bed a few minutes longer or jolt me awake without the need for coffee.  My training in 2012-2013 became sporadic and inconsistent.  I convinced myself to head for the hills or take it “easy” on a trail when in reality I needed an easy track workout or a rest day.

I ran because it made me feel good and allowed me to return to the desk with vigor and enthusiasm.  My training because my coping mechanism for stress.  The more stress, the more I ran.  I even listened to lectures on the run, thus serving both masters…studying and working out.  But, the balance shifted when I choose new benefits to running without taking stock of all the ones already in my possession.

Mid-October I went on a run after a particularly difficult day and had to limp home the last 2 miles.  It was a sobering reminder that skipping steps in the healing process is always a bad idea.  The doctor let me know it was just more of the same; my achilles tendon was inflamed and the only solution is stopping and letting it heal.

Now, I am reaching the depths of the “athlete depression.”  I have difficulty accepting any decision made for me.  Having some input and say in what happens in my own life is a really big deal to me.  Thus, this injury forcing me to stop regardless of my will to go is a huge punch to the ego.  I have gained a few pounds and don’t feel the strength and vitality I usually have.  Also I am jealous (in a good way) of all of my friends logging miles without me.  But, rather than sinking into my own head and ego I will thank this injury.

Thank you achilles tendonitis for allowing me more time to study for finals.  Thank you for reminding me that feeling something even if it's painful is better than feeling nothing at all.  Thank you for helping me re-connect with my mindfulness.  Thank you for forcing me to accept conditions I cannot control and deal with them in a positive way.  Thank you for giving me a warning before something really serious happened.  Thank you for not happening during Headlands 50, that would have ruined my proposal so definitely a fist bump on that one. 

Thank you for reminding me the goals I seek are not limited to the trails but also include the kitchen.  I am now starting to manage my caloric intake, i.e. dieting.  Admittedly, my excitement for dieting is at an all time low and particularly so near the end of the year.  Also not looking forward to getting back on the road or into the gym when everyone else plans their “New Years Resolutions.”  But, thank you for reminding me that running is a part of my life, not my whole life.  Running gives me pleasure, but so do other things (like cookies).

Thanks for reminding me of my running goals and the work I need to put in to get there.  Thanks for not letting me skip steps and reminding me that a runner is just as much body as he is heart.  I promise I will do my best to come back, healthier, happier and even if we never meet again...thank you from the bottom of my sole.