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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#55: Some girls go blonde... I'm running a half marathon

Some girls dye their hair blonde in times of crisis. Unfortunately, blonde hair doesn’t suit me. Fortunately, my hair dresser would never let that happen. Instead, I spontaneously signed up for a marathon. On the surface, it doesn’t seem that uncharacteristic for someone who loves working out to run a half marathon—it’s just a half, after all. If you know how much lifters hate cardio, (specifically running) then you know how much of a crisis this must be.

This exaggerated existential crisis of the week is a result of a few things. First of all, it’s not productive for me to eat in a calorie deficit or count calories right now, but I’m unhappy with the extra pounds on my body. People talk about how running “burns muscle.” This can be true depending on the circumstances, but it’s not my concern right now. I know I won’t lose much muscle, and if I did, I’d build it right back up.

At first, taking up running was a passing thought when I was frustrated about getting up early one morning. I wasn’t fully committed, but I researched a few runs and posted one on my story as a joke asking Instagram if I should do it. One of my good friends happens to be a marathon runner. He saw my story and registered for the run without consulting me. He posted a story of his registration, tagged me, and told me it was my turn. I posted the Ferry Run (all the runners take a ferry over to Bainbridge Island for the race) on my story because it was the coolest of the half marathons I researched, but the date is June 12th, giving me 9 weeks to train when most training plans suggest 10 weeks. I likely would’ve selected one in July to give myself proper time. So naturally, I was upset at first. Isn’t that something you consult someone about? However, I knew that I likely would’ve signed up for a run anyway. By the end of the day, I also registered for the half and started training the next day.

I realized two things very quickly: 1. I hated running because I’m afraid of it. 2. I’m much better at running now than I was a few years ago. I’m relatively confident that I could get up tomorrow and run the half without training, although I’d definitely hate myself and never want to run again. I’m doing my best to train properly this time so that I learn to enjoy running—or at least tolerate it. I began training expecting to run at a 10min per mile pace. Without pushing myself, it turns out I can run a 9:30 or 9:15 average pace. The last mile of my runs is nearly always the fastest, which tells me I could run faster if I wanted. Sure, running is hard, but so are lifting and hiking. The real reason I bad mouth running so much because I was afraid of it. I was so slow for so many years that I started to dread running more and more. I had no reason to do it, so I could continue not doing it and hating it. I’m sure I’d be even slower now if I had to carry a 20-pound dumbbell…

I still lift 5 days a week. I have 2-3 full lifts and 2 days with 25 min lifts. I’m trying to be diligent about core and mobility, even if it means less time lifting. Spending less time lifting scares me to death, quite frankly. It’s not rational, but I’m afraid I’ll lose all my muscle. (Even though I’m not afraid to run and lose muscle mass?) I keep reminding myself that won’t happen, and that mobility is way more important for longevity.

Another reason I’m running is to re-arrange my schedule so I can get more sleep. It’s not realistic for me to be in be in bed at 9:30 or 10pm. I need time to wind down at the end of the day before sleeping, and that time doesn’t exist if I have to sleep so early. I dread making plans after work because it means I’ll be home later and not have time to relax. More likely, I’ll go to sleep at 11pm instead and be exhausted the next day. The point of running is that my workout is divided into a lift and a run. I can run outside or on the treadmill at my apartment, so this gives me flexibility to do it anytime of day when I have a spare 30-45 minutes rather than finding 1.5-2 hours for a long lift.

Since I barely drink these days, I have energy to channel into a run. I joke that I used to run before I started drinking, but it’s not really a joke. (To be clear, I drink about once a week on Saturdays in normal times.) By energy, I mean anger. When I feel angry, I tell myself to shove it into the ground and run faster. Separate issue.

In actuality, running hasn’t given back time or made my schedule better. It makes sense that I added another component to my workouts, so it takes more time rather than less, especially since I’m not willing to give up much lift time. I still don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, so I end up working from home, running during lunch and then going to the gym after work. Avoiding the crowded gym was the reason I decided to workout in the morning instead, but here I am. The time exists—that’s not my problem. The problem is finding a continuous block of time for a lift or a lift and a run without working from home. I’m back to this ad-hoc workout scheduling that I hated so much a few months ago.

If I could work 7:30am-3:30pm or 8am-4pm, it would be much easier to manage. I’d be able to get more sleep than when I get up at 5:30am, and it takes less energy to get myself to work than to workout. I’d be done with the day early enough to make it to the gym before rush hour and hangout with friends after. I do this when I can, but I don’t think its appropriate for a first-year analyst to declare I’m not working regular hours, even if my team would allow it. Most days are longer than 8 hours, so if something needs to be done at the end of the day I miss my workout time. I prefer to start work between 8:30am most days since it’s quieter in the morning and I have more energy. However, if I get a meeting request for 4:30 or 5pm, I still have to attend the meeting, and end up working more than I intended. * I might as well not have started working early in the morning because now I’m just working more than necessary without additional productivity.

*I’m hyper-focused during my worktime so that I can get as much done as possible without wasting time. This requires all my energy, so it’s not productive for me to do much more anyway.

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