Twice a week I am fortunate enough to have a work schedule that provides me with the mornings to myself. The kids are at school, I’ve already put in a good three hours of work before they got up and off to school and I have deemed myself worthy of a break. Well, not just any break. An exercise break. A mommy is getting her zen on break. Some days this means a yoga class. Some days it means a run. And some days (really “lucky” ones) I do both. Gasp.

On the running days, I really look forward not just to the benefit from the post-run endorphins but also the quiet self reflection time I get out of it. No work, no kids, no phone calls, emails etc… Just me and my thoughts ’till I collapse (yep, that’s an Eminem reference right there. Anyone? You are so missing out if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Like many things in my life, I like to “go big or go home,” meaning that I regularly overcommit myself and set the bar unreasonably high. So basically, when running, if I don’t feel like I am going to die when I stop then I don’t think I pushed myself hard enough. However… the thing about running though, is that it’s all you. 100% your effort. Run when you want to run. Quit when you want to quit. Nothing to push you but your own motivation. In reflecting about this (during my last run, of course), I couldn’t help but consider the typical thought process that goes on during my cardio excursions.Most days, it goes down something like this:

The night before or early that morning:

“I’m going to run 5 miles. Yeah. 5 nice moderately paced miles. That will totally work off my breakfast. And dinner. And um, bottle of wine from last night…”

The First Block-

“Ruuuuunnnnnnnnn fast! Faster. The neighbors are watching you. For sure. With their blinds closed. . .. RUN. FASTER. Fast = badass = merit badge for self-esteem trophy shelf”

The Second Block-

“Still runnnnnniiiinnnnnggg faaaassssttttt. I’m so fast. I like these shorts. These are good shorts. And this shirt? Gangster. I am totally going to keep it on the whole time. This shit is not coming off today (ha, ha, that’s funny. shit. Sounds like shirt, only not. It’s like a punny auto-correct joke. Get it? punny… I crack myself up. And now I’m smiling like an idiot while I run. SERIOUS face.SERIOUS. You are running Michelle. Running is SERIOUS.”

The Fifth Block-

“Okay maybe I should slow down. A little. I maybe can’t keep this pace up for five miles. Think I’m out of sight of anyone who saw me start running so it’s cool if I slow it down a bit. Slowing down a little bit at a time .. . OH THANK GOD THE LIGHT IS RED I CAN STOP. Actually, no. Bad plan. If I stop I might never start again. Maybe I’ll just dodge traffic. Like a squirrel. Or a rabbit. Or a dumb dog. No. Maybe I will bounce up and down at the light like an eager participant in a Richard Simmons jazzercise video. Where are my sweet socks and headband though? I totally need those. Gotta check zappos when I get home. For sure I have time and money to spend there. Obviously.

Hey, I am now the kind of person I would make fun of if I were the person driving by in the car. There ya’ go. Make someone else’s day by making a fool out of yourself so they laugh. That’s me, always giving back to society. You’re welcome for that gift. I’ll be serving wit, sarcasm and mediocre dancing and lip syncing skills all day, free of charge. Tips welcomed.”

Mile One-

“So that was a rough one. Perhaps over-exaggerated my cardio fitness level. Reality CHECK just arrived. But hey, one mile down. four to go. . . four. FOUR? hmmmmm. Maybe today is a three mile day. Yeah, I haven’t run in awhile. Like, since, um, yesterday…Today is a good day for three miles. I’ll just run really fast the last mile. Tomorrow is a better day for five miles. I’ll have more. . . time, or something like that. “

Mile Two-

“This isn’t that bad. I think I just hit my stride, I’m in “THE ZONE” baby. Sweet. This ought to last all of five minutes. Maybe I can run five miles after all. Wait, I’m supposed to run fast the last mile. I’m almost to the end of this mile. AHHHHH! Sprint or keep running this pace? Sprint or keep running this pace? Damn it all this is the longest damn mile of my life. Make a decision Michelle. Make a decision !!!”

Mile Three-

“Picking up my pace. Yep. Ow. That’s what I thought. That freaking hurts. Okay, let’s go back to plan A. I mean, what am I, a big sissy? Five miles is no big deal. That’s like 15 extra minutes of running. Okay maybe 16. Fine, closer to 20. Whatever. I can do it. I’m strong, I’m healthy and I don’t quit. QUITTER.”

Mile Four-

“Well, hmmm, I made it past three miles. But five? Ugh. Damn it all to hell. But I made a commitment, and I say what I mean and mean what I say so… wait, did I actually say that to anyone? Maybe it doesn’t count. I can retract my own statement. Big breath. Just do it. Turn up the volume on this song. Hey, I like this song. I forgot I had my headphones in. AHHHH! TREE! Note to self- don’t look down at armband while running. Just stop and switch songs. Way less bruising that way. “

Mile Five-

“I can do this. I can do this. Just breathe. Take like 100 breaths. I wonder how many breaths it would take me to run a whole mile? Ooooh, pretty bird. That lady over there looks funny doing burpees with her baby. But seriously, bad form girl. Ew, creepy man coming up on the right. OOOOOHHHH, hot guy running toward me, speed up, look cool, lllooooook cooooooollllll. Phew. Made it. Slow the hell down again. Oh dude, gross. Put your freaking shirt on man who is scuffling along behind hot guy that passed me, that beer belly needs coverage.

Speaking of bellies, hmmm, when did I take my shirt off? And where the hell is it? Damn. I wonder if MY belly is hanging out?!?!? Shit, now I gotta suck it in and run and that’s way harder. Breathe. Breathe. Squirrel! No wait, that’s an actual squirrel. That’s so funny because remember how last week I saw that funny pin about getting easily distrac- hey, look at that, I finally finished. I ran five miles! Go me, “it’s your birthday. it’s your birthday. I’m gonna party like it’s your birthday.” Dance partaaaayyy up in here. Oh damn it all. I’m .85 miles from home still. Awesome. High five for good planning on my end. WINNER.”


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