July 11, 2016

Health : The Grind & The Reward

somewhere in Wyoming, 2013
I've decided that for me, the beginning and the end of these long runs for marathon training are the worst. Getting out of bed and gathering my things for a long run remind me of getting up in the dark for a 30-hour call during residency.  I know that I have to. I've done it so many times I have down the routine of getting my clothes, running belt, hat, sunscreen and headphones; or my scrubs, stethoscope, pager, pens and notecards.  It should all be very streamlined but instead it's stop and go, because I'm groaning my way through it and procrastinating as much as I can.

Then the first few miles my legs are so heavy and all I'm thinking about is how far I have to go; the first few hours of a shift my mind is struggling to defog and I wonder how I'll be able to concentrate this much for this long.

Then the last few miles my knees are aching and everything from hip to toe feels stiff.  Sometimes I can't tell if I'm really running because I'm just shuffling along, pushing to not stop.  Physically it mirrors my mental exhaustion during the last few hours of a 30-hour shift when everyone else has just woken up and I've been up all night and I'm expected to not just communicate on their level but to lead the team. I kind of want to spit at the expectation people have for me to be sprinting to the finish.  Don't tell me it's only two more miles!  I've been out here forever!  Then the guilt over being crabby makes me crabbier.

During the beginning, I keep telling myself over and over that the struggle will give way to good. During most runs this inevitably arrives--the degree and duration varies, but it undeniably becomes wonderful to feel physically able, to breathe in sync with your legs, to see miles of the world on foot.  Which is the same with a long shift where the grind of work work work is sprinkled with fulfilling interactions with people or just learnings about people. To listen to someone's lungs and be able to decide how you can help their breathing--at the end of all this, it seems to be about improving the air we take in and out.

Then, as the hours drag and I can feel my stamina peetering out with the last drips of water or minutes until morning rounds, I'm desperate to be done.  During the end, I keep telling myself over and over how the good that came before will not just last but also re-blossom in a different form after this is complete.  The good will stay.  The rest is just moments that frame and build your strength to get to the good.  That's what I tell myself during the end, to cope with the bad.

After it's all over, I try to reclaim the bad. I apologize for trying to discard it during the experience, though I haven't decided whether that's right or wrong or just necessary for survival.  But I think it's probably part of the whole, and I can't pick and choose what to take from an experience. Even if it hurts, I'll try to be open to both the ache and the high, and maybe some day I'll be more present in the former instead of just waiting for the latter.


  1. Wow this is such a good description of the ups and downs, highs and lows of running! I totally feel you on this one!

  2. Wow this is such a good description of the ups and downs, highs and lows of running! I totally feel you on this one!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, while running I often think back on how other people describe it so I don't feel like the only one!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...