We’re Doing It Wrong

I started running again. I have never been a serious runner. It’s easy to make excuses to sit at home on my behind.

“I’m reading a book, so I’m actually exercising my mind.”

“I don’t have time for this stuff. I barely have enough time to do the things I really want to do.”

“I am not built properly. I’ll injure myself.”

“Runners’ feet stink. I don’t want that to happen to me.” ***

“I just don’t like to run.”

“I was humiliated in high school by their running program. They made me feel terrible about myself. No thanks.”

But I am motivated when I watch my husband. He’s a very serious runner. 30+ miles a week, up at 5:45 every morning to get it done, and he’s a basket case if the weather or illness prevents him from running for several days in a row.

My desire to run isn’t because he shoves books about ultra-marathoning under my nose. He has those books. He reads them, but he doesn’t expect me to read them. I’m not a marathoner. He has given me books, of course; books by John “The Penguin” Bingham like “The Courage to Start.” The Penguin is on my wavelength. He’s not fast, but he perseveres for the joy and benefits of running. It’s inspirational to a potato such as myself.

My motivation to run doesn’t come from the health nuts on television screaming that America is the fattest nation on earth. That 2/3 of us are overweight. That obesity is moving up as the number one preventable cause of death in this country. *Yawn* All those poor, fat people. That’s them, not me.

I want to run because I want what my husband has. The peace he has after a long run is enviable, sure. And the knowledge that in a zombie apocalypse, the ability to run faster than the shuffling hoard can mean survival is pretty cool, too. But mostly, I covet his ability to polish off three bowls of pasta and remain fighting trim. I want that. Desperately. So I get up off my duff on days that it’s not raining or icy and do a bit of running.

Is it pretty? No. What I do is not so much running, or even jogging. I’d call my form “joggling.” But it works for me. And it’s getting me to where I want to be. I made it through the holidays, and my pants still fit. That’s what I call results, folks. And I like how I feel.

I wish that more of us would take the same approach with the matter of religion. I wish that we would all live our lives in such a way that non-believers would want what we had.

When it comes to Christ’s love, I wish that we could set aside the telling and move on to the showing. Telling doesn’t usually work so well; not in health pursuits, not in writing, not in religion. Saying “I love all God’s children” sounds great. Helping a stranger get their car out of a ditch in terrible weather might just carry a stronger message. Or buying a meal for someone who is hungry.

And yelling is even less effective than using plain words. I don’t think I’m the only one who was born with the deep desire to do exactly the opposite of what I’m told I have to do.

I know that eternal damnation is a part of the Bible, just like hill repeats are part of training for a race. But if we throw such an intense training plan in front of someone who hasn’t run a step since 9th grade, they’re not all that likely to lace up those running shoes and hit the trail. If it’s all terror and torment, who wants to be a part of that? Start with the peace; the love. There’s time to cover the rest.

As Christians, we need to take a Hippocratic oath of sorts. “First, do no harm.” So many people are anti-Christian because they have been hurt by The Church. I was one of those. I walked away from religion for many years. I was fortunate. I never walked away from God. But many have. It’s even more important for us not to drive people away from the love of Christ than it is to bring people to God.

My challenge to fellow Christians is to live your lives in such a way that people want what you have. If you believe in a God of peace, have peace. If you believe in a God of forgiveness, you must forgive. If you believe in a  God of love, show love. Ask God to keep His arm around your shoulder, and His hand over your mouth. Let your love for God be demonstrated in all that you do.

Show the Light; don't just tell them it's sunny.

Show the Light; don’t just tell them it’s sunny.



*** With apologies to my husband. Your feet smell just fine, sweetie!

False Starts

I started running again. When you read that phrase, the image in your head is likely one of an elite athlete forced to take a break from their training finally returning to the sport in triumph. I’m going to let you think that.

I am not a runner. My husband is. He’s like a greyhound at the track, long and lean, and likely to chew on your library books. Okay, I made that last bit up. But he’s a runner. 30+ miles a week qualifies him for the label. My one mile a day, three days a week running the Padawan to school does not.

I don’t like to run. If I could get healthy and fit by being beaten with a wooden oar, that’s the option I’d probably choose. I’m short and wheezy and asthmatic, clearly the makings of a top tier competitor.

My absence from the sport can be explained partly by some trouble with my leg. It hurt. Like, a lot. I don’t go to the doctor. I have my reasons. They aren’t sound ones, but I’m a big baby an adult. So I did what anyone would do. Nothing at all. Until I could barely walk. I was finally referred to a physical therapist.

Turns out I’m made weird. My foot does something freakish I should have outgrown when I was 15, resulting in a calf that’s roughly 30% larger than the other. No wonder I run like a duck.

The actual therapy part is painful, and I don’t mean a little. It requires The Stick, a series of giant beads strung on a PVC stick. It’s used to apply pressure up and down the tightened muscles of my calf. The rotten bit is that I cannot use this device properly by myself, which means engaging an assistant. And he hates it.

He’s a little soft-hearted, I guess. He doesn’t like to hurt me. I don’t know it’s the screaming. Or the tears. Or the kick to the groin. But for some reason, after two sessions he has been reluctant to help me. I try to motivate him, to get him in the proper frame of mind for the task, but there are only so many times I can key his car or pee in his running shoes before he takes out a restraining order and I’m right back where I started. What’s a girl to do?

Anyway, I ran again today. After several long weeks, I went to the track. It has less to do with New Years resolutions than the sure knowledge that I’m going to die if I don’t. I’ve had a series of migraines lately and have come to the understanding that if I don’t develop a good way of dealing with stress, my head is going to quite literally explode. So I ran.

It was just a mile. Four little laps around the track. I could do that easily. Except I discovered that when I run, I lose the ability to count to four. I think I ran four laps. Maybe it was three. “Four” comes after “one,” right?

39 degrees is warmer that I thought it would be, and I did eventually need to peel off my sweatpants. Next time, I will try really hard to make sure I’m wearing shorts underneath.

I had hoped to process some plot lines for the novel I am working on, but I was not successful. Unless that plot involves lots of wheezy breathing and vows to never, ever do this again. I’m sure I’ll have better luck with that next time.

If there is a next time. Maybe exploding head isn’t as bad as I thought.

Magic Shoes – With Sincere Apologies to Forrest Gump

I bought new running shoes. I had to. Running shoes are supposed to be replaced every 400 miles or so. I don’t run much, of course, but after two years of ownership, my last pair had seen a good 2000 miles. It was time, due to both condition and aroma. Sauconys don’t smell the best to start with, so after two years and that many miles, I’m frankly a little grateful that severe allergies have killed most of my sense of smell.

I almost didn’t buy them. I asked to see the latest model of what I was wearing, and sticker shock nearly took me out. I’m a cheapskate. I have shopped at thrift stores for more than ten years (if you were to ever see me in person, you’d be painfully aware of it), so the idea of paying full retail for anything is repugnant. Add to that the price increase. This model has gone up about 30% in the last two years, which seems pretty darned steep. ***

I looked the pricey kicks up and down and wondered if I could gracefully back out of the store and put up with what I had for a few more years. But my legs offered their two cents in the form of a well-timed muscle twinge. I don’t know if it’s my old, beat up shoes or my illness that flares up from time to time, but the last few weeks I’ve been unable to sleep due to leg pain. It might actually be worth coughing up the national debt of a small nation to be able to rest well, right? Cognitive dissonance says yes, friends.

I tried on the shoes to make sure I actually liked them. Saucony has surprised me before. Their Grid Omni III was just heaven. The four was unwearable. I tried the current model. It was okay, but if I’m going to plunk down a chunk of the money I’ve been saving for my camera, I am going to be sure I’m buying the right thing. Thirty minutes and eight pairs later, I walked out with the very first pair of shoes I tried on. Of. Course.

They are ugly. Where most brands are moving to a wider toe box (that’s the part of the shoe where the toes go, for those of you who don’t speak the lingo), these are strangely pointy,  but the sole itself is wide. I look like I’m wearing orthopedic elf shoes.

But they do the trick, and that’s what counts. I beat my old time by about two minutes this morning, though that may have had less to do with the shoes than with the bone-chilling temperature. More importantly, my legs hurt less, and that’s worth every penny.


*** Heather’s soapbox Let me just jump in and say that I might could have saved $10 online, but I didn’t. The shop I visited is locally owned. The folks who work there are so knowledgeable that they analyze a customer’s gait before recommending shoes. When my husband first shopped there many years ago, they told him he was actually wearing the wrong kind of shoe for his particular body mechanics. And they were right. You can’t get that kind of advice online. And if I visit a local shop and take more than five minutes of their time getting (good) advice, I sure as heck owe it to them to shop there.

An aquarium shop I used to work for recently went out of business after about 40 years because customers would come in and get lots of great advice on keeping their fish, and then they’d go right down the road to the big box pet supply place to buy what they needed. Or go on the world wide web and buy stuff in bulk. Now there’s no one in town to offer 40 years of experience.

My New Hobby

I started running recently. My husband is an avid runner. He is doing a bit of training with the Padawan, who has now appointed himself my personal trainer. As if I need one. You don’t get this stunning physique from sitting at the computer writing and eating MoonPies. Okay, maybe you do.

So the Padawan and I run to school each morning, which is saying something. When Bill Cosby wrote his bit about his dad claiming to walk to school and it was uphill both ways, he had our neighborhood in mind. Whichever direction you choose, there’s nowhere to go but up. But I do it because it makes the kid happy, and it makes me tired, requiring me to fortify myself with an extra MoonPie. What? I said I was running, not adopting an entirely new lifestyle.

I know lots of writers who draw inspiration from their runs, mulling over chapters, blog posts, short stories as they exercise. I am not one to let such an opportunity pass me by, so here you go. The poem inspired by my morning run.

Beautiful morning! Wow!

Cool breeze. Fall is here.

Padawan is so fast.

I’ll never be that fast.

If he makes fun of my speed again,

I will pound him into the ground.

I need running shoes.

These Chacos just aren’t doing the job.

Are we there yet?

Good Lord, this hill is long.

My legs hurt. I need to pee.

Why did I drink all that water this morning?

Goodbye Padawan! Have a good day!

I will never do this again.

Why are those people staring at me?

I hate them. All of them.

If that car honks its horn at me,

I will flatten their tire.

How long is this hill?

I think I may die!

No, seriously! Someone call 9-1-1.

I am not going to make it!


Catching my breath.


Never moving another step.


But I still need to pee.

Over in those bushes?

No, the neighbors are watching

After the last time.

Moving on.

I see the house!

It has never looked more beautiful.



And scene.


Nearly Wordless Wednesday: What Happens When You Don’t Listen


Your kid paints your toenail burgundy.

Not my huge, hairy hobbit foot. No, really. This is my husband’s foot. All my toenails match. In fact, they match his. That was my polish she used.


Runners kill toenails. Usually their own. And sometimes they try to hide the dead nail fact with pretty pink nail polish. The Princess of Darkness observed her dad’s icky nail with an artist’s eye. Let the record show, she did say “Dad, that pink polish isn’t working. Can I repaint it with burgundy?”

And let the record show, he said “Mmmm-hmmm….” Maybe I should strike from the record that he was reading the news after work on the internet. Anyhoo, thirty minutes later, he looked down at his toe. And maybe screamed a little. But not in a girly way. In a “how am I going to wear Chacos in public, and do we have any polish remover?” kind of way.

Maybe he has learned to listen more carefully before he agrees to anything. Or maybe he’s just going to pretend he has boo-boo until the paint chips off.


***I’m making a list of my favorite names for voting. Coming soon.

Running Is Hazardous to Your Health

Saturday should be sacred. It is the one golden day of the week where I can sleep late. We attend the early service on Sunday mornings, so sleeping past 7:30 on a Sunday means a frantic morning rush that can lead to losing our religion before we even get out of the house.

Saturdays are for quilts and pillows and sweet dreams, not the screech of the alarm clock at 5:45 so a spouse can get in his morning run. 5:45. I know the importance of his morning run, but I’ve got news. 8:45? Still morning! Wait a couple of hours. It still counts.

I get the importance of exercise and all of that. I do. And I know that running is a big stress relief. But honestly, what kind of stress do you have at 5:45 that isn’t actually caused by getting up  at that ungodly hour? No, the stress comes when you later realize your disgruntled, exhausted wife, awakened hours before her time, has put kitty litter in your morning coffee. I’m sure it was an accident and not revenge. After all, litter and ground coffee do look a bit alike. Even though the coffee is kept in a cabinet above the pantry and the litter is kept downstairs. I can’t be expected to know the difference between French roast and Fresh Step before the sun has even come up, right?

What’s the big deal, you ask? Why can’t I just go back to sleep when the alarm goes off? Oh, but I can. I usually have no trouble sliding back into the arms of slumber. But toddlers are a different story. Squish sleeps in our room. When the alarm sounds his Reveille , smallest soldier takes up arms for adventure. He is content to snuggle just long enough to warm his icy feet on my leg before he is clamoring for breakfast or making plans to ride his toy motorcycle with a bucket on his head in lieu of a helmet.

This morning, I was dreaming I was being chased by a chimpanzee who was trying to kill me. I longed to sink back into that dream, as my waking alternative meant trying to subdue a hairless primate who was amusing himself in the dark by transferring boogers from his nose to mine. Sharing is caring.  Running before daylight is killing.

If these Saturday shenanigans continue, my dear husband may discover he indeed has something to run from.  His exercise of choice may take on a whole new range of health benefits, including preventing his untimely death. If he can outrun me. This morning, his odds aren’t good.