the circular runner

running in circles–anxiety as a way of life…

In observations, Uncategorized on May 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

Let me start by saying I run, which does not mean I am a runner.  I am not.  I run for two reasons.  1.  Because I don’t have to make plans to do it with other people, so I can just get out there and sweat whenever I feel I need to.  And 2. because my wife is a talented baker and because I like sweets and because I don’t want to become poofier than an eclair.  And when I run, I try to run on a track.  In an anti-eco friendly move, I actually drive a mile and a half each way so that I can run in looping quarter miles.  Don’t ask me why I do this.  Partly, I guess when I’m running, I don’t care about seeing stuff.  I enjoy the constancy of going in circles even if I don’t always enjoy the running itself.  It’s kind of meditative, which I need.
I used to like running more when I was younger.  I’m not that old, mind you, but I am starting to feel a slight twinge in my right knee and the little creaks and cracks all over can be disconcerting.  The great Catch-22 of running when you are nearing 40 is that you are running so you can keep your weight down, but the added weight you already have brings you down and holds you down so you want to stop running, which in turn, allows you to gain more weight.  Still, with me, the real problem isn’t physical as much as it is mental.  Running, you see, makes me anxious.  Or maybe it’s better to say I’m more anxious about everything, even running.

To give you an idea of how deep the problem goes, let me give you an example.  For the past two months, I’ve been running more often and trying to run longer.  I had this goal that I would add a mile every other week until I got to ten miles.  Then I would go back down to something more manageable like six miles and work my way back up again.  I set myself these little goals in life as a way of feeling like I’m going some where–yes, even though I like to run in circles, I still want to go somewhere, which probably adds to my anxiety.  In any case, the problem is that once I make a goal, I lose heart.  I start worrying (though I couldn’t tell you why) that I can’t hit the mark I set for myself.  Sometimes I can push through–like two weeks ago when I forced myself to hit nine miles–36 circles in all.  But even as I was running, there was this voice inside me telling me to stop because I couldn’t finish.  And when I did finish after about an hour and 20 minutes, I started hearing a voice inside doubting that I could do it again.  In fact, for a couple days, all I could think about was that in two weeks, which is today, I would never in a million years be able to hit 10 miles.

Now if you think I’m crazy about my running, an activity I don’t claim as being near to my heart, then think about what it’s like for me to write.  I’m no runner, but I am a writer.  So you know the self doubt stuff is in full force.  I’m not sure why this is, and I’m even less sure if I can do anything about it other than to laugh a little at the complete battiness of it all.  If that works, then maybe I’ll change the blog’s name to Smiling Through Life or Why I’m Happy and Carefree.  Or maybe Running in Rainbows.  For now, know this: this blog tells the story of a man who runs in circles most days.  He does not know why he does this.  He just does.  He hopes that he will sometimes get out of the circle–at least when he is not running for real.  When he is running for real, though, he makes no promises.

  1. awesome. Once again I totally get this…I mean I don’t run but I have been known to break out in a full on walk every once in a while…but anxiety is certainly a way of life for me too. I am a powerfully neurotic high strung piece of work. I like this, good work.

  2. This is pretty much how I set / assign tasks to myself. Or how I approach tasks from my work. I get excited while in the team, then I need to do some of the tasks back home – and I wait until forever to do it, get anxious about it, tell myself I’ll never do it right – and in doing it in the last minute of course I don’t. A problem I’m yet to figure out how to deal with.

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