Monday, September 30, 2013

Running Into And Out Of Fear....Is Counting To Ten Childish?

As most of you know one of the main things my doctor prescribed has been daily vigorous exercises.  I've done most of that running, but I've also done some strength training too.  I keep track of the running with two different apps because I have some friends who use one and some who use another.  looking at what they do helps keep me motivated.

I set a goal to make it at least 60 miles in September overall, and I wanted to also run half as many miles as one of my friends who runs a lot and has been for years.  Tonight I accomplished the former but not the latter and really the latter was a pipe dream since this friends runs half and full marathons.

It wasn't easy though.  I've had days that it was difficult to motivate myself, and a medication change.   Today, a ward change.  I auditioned for Salt Lake Vocal Artists and stressed about it.  I stressed about it a lot.  In fact I was telling my sister (by Chat on Facebook) that I thought since it had been so long I figured I hadn't made it.  while I was chatting with her I got and email alert and when I checked it, I was in for this wonderful chance to sing for many choral directors at a convention this February.  Ups and downs like that also affected how hard I pushed myself and how much I kept at it.

When I hit 55.3-ish miles yesterday I didn't realize that the last 4.7-ish miles would be my toughest.  I needed the run tonight to help with dealing with the change coming to our ward boundaries, a new ward, a new time.  How my kids would get along with those in the new ward etc.  I also I needed just a few more miles to make my goal.

I got the kids to bed late and finally decided to do a late night run.  I've gotten used to it but maybe it was the extra anxiety of the day, for some reason running out there with just my little head light and me lighted armband and the soft orange glow of my cellphone counting up the miles I was running, something spooked me.

I heard a loud noise like a bark as I ran past Rocky Mountain Junior High, and I wondered if it was the two dogs I've had to scare off with forceful shouting a few times this past week.  I kept looking back but didn't see anything.  I decided to pop out one of my earbuds and run with the music on in just one ear.  I felt better and kept going.  Close to mile 2, I saw what I was sure was someone in a black hoodie sneaking around just ahead of me by the fence of a large yard.  Just as I decided to swing my head over in that direction the fence gave way to grass with poplars growing every 10 feet or so.  When my light went to where I last saw him, I saw nothing.

I thought I was mistaken but as I ran I thought, "I run this same way many nights of the week.  What if someone figured it out and thought I'd be easy to mug.  Yes all I had on me was a smart phone but maybe that was enough to entice someone."  My heart began to race and the logical parts of my brain began to turn off. at one point I stopped to walk so I could turn around and look a few times.  When that happened my anxious state coupled with the running I had been doing made my legs and back start to cramp. I hit about 2.3 miles and turned around.  Each time I tried to start running I cramped up and my heart raced more. I walked and jogged, and walked and jogged a lot for the next mile or so.  Oh and while I was doing that I realized the Dark Man in the hoodie was just the extremely bright light of that park bathroom I always pass, and I had literally been spooked by my own shadow. I have compared myself to a groundhog (thinking about how sometimes I get out in public and get spooked easily) lately in my mind but tonight the comparison was quite literal.

With a little less than a mile left I decided to run again.  For no real reason I began to count everytime my left foot hit the ground.

"1 and 2 and..." I would think until I got to 100.

Then I started over.  I got lost at 30 or so and started over, this time just going to 10 and starting over. Without really realizing it I was doing what listening to my choral music usually does for me.  I was engaging the logical part of my brain and when that's active the limbic system (which controls fight or flight) shuts down.  My cramps lessened and my heart rate went back to where it usually does when I do a casual run without a specific pace goal.  Yes, I will still need to work out some knots with a deep tissue massage from my wife tomorrow and I will certainly take a rest day and lift weights and work the upper body tomorrow.  But I turned off the panic attack.

Counting to ten.  How cliché is that? I always thought that was something that is told to children. Adults need something much more complicated than just counting to ten right?

If you're having trouble...Count to ten.  It's not just for children anymore.

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