Saturday, March 12, 2016

I Love You But I Don't Really Like You Right Now

I love my daughter, my husband, my dog,  my true friends, running...more than anything in the world. They make life valuable.

And yet there are times when I do not LIKE them.
Like, when the dog keeps digging up the same damn bulbs out of the garden...
Or, when my daughter starts copping a nasty, whiny attitude that seems to come from nowhere in particular...
Or, when my husband asks: "Are you angry about something?" and I say (sincerely, because at this time I am not) "No." and he says "You're acting like you're angry about something..."  Grrrrrrrrrr...

Yesterday someone asked: "Do you ever tire of running Caolan?"

This was my response:
"There are many days I drag my sorry, obstinate ass out. There are days I hate every step and just want it to be done. But. Habit gets me out on those days. Unless I'm sick or I just know that I need a rest day, I will go. I'd say maybe 5% suck . 20 % I'm not in the mood, but it's ok. 25% are ok. And maybe 50% I'm excited for or super stoked about...There was a time that I went out because if I didn't I'd hate myself, but over time I stopped thinking about it. Now it really isn't open to debate. I just go. Like eating, sleeping, putting clothes on, question."
And this all got me thinking...

There are times that I say to my daughter "I love you and always love you, but right now I do not like your behavior." There are times when friends and family frustrate me to the point that I feel that I don't really like them at that moment - I know that I still love them, treasure them, but I just don't really LIKE them. And I'm sure many feel that way about me at times.

And, I also feel that way about running. Once you find something (or someone) that clicks with you, makes you feel more alive, allows you to be YOU, well, then that thing, or person, is a keeper.

I think that sometimes those who have been running for years, who never ever question (any longer) the identity "runner", forget to show those who are still trying to develop the habit and get comfortable with the identity 'runner', that it isn't always rainbows and unicorns!

Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows
There's LOTS of days I'd rather not go run. Often, once I'm out there I realize that I'm just fine and it turns out great, or at least fine. But there are those days when the whole stinking run just sucks. I'm just not in the mood and I don't want to be there, but I do it. Why? Because I'm a runner and it's a habit. I don't even give myself another option.*

So, in the service of full disclosure and to perhaps encourage those still developing the habit of running, let me be very clear: While I usually want to run, the "scale of psych" varies from day to day.

The Scale of Psych:

<--hating it---Not too bad---Meh----Pretty okay---Oh, this is good---Boom----Never want to stop--->

Example: Two weeks ago I ran the Phoenix Marathon:
The forecast is for a HOT day, getting up to 90 with lows higher than I want for any part of a marathon. I hate hot weather. But for some strange reason (perhaps because I've been through this so many times at this point) I really am not stressed about it. I will do what I can do. So, we arrive in Mesa, late afternoon, stop at the expo, get to the hotel, go for a long hot tub soak, hang in our room eating what we brought for dinner while watching crappy TV. Get to bed at a reasonable time - though not for the 3:30 a.m. wake up, and I fall asleep. And, at 12:28 my eyes pop open. No worries, just go back to sleep. But sleep eludes me for the next three hours - not because I'm nervous - but because my body and mind is so excited to just run (Okay. I also have a raging sinus infection and lying down causes strange noises in my head ;). So, I just kept telling myself: "Wake up will come faster if you go to sleep". But at 12:28 I felt great and raring to go. Hmmm. Not good timing. So as the glowing numbers on the clock slowly tick through the night I just try to lie like a dead woman. I've actually gotten pretty good at this. I do not move. And the time drags by painfully slow. And it is painful because I want to freaking run NOW.

But the point of this story is that I woke up because I just WANTED to run. Why? Who knows. For all intents and purposes, the stars were not particularly aligned for a 'good' race. But for some reason I didn't care. I just wanted to run. And sometimes that deep desire hits at 12:28 a.m...

But, importantly, many times the mood meter moves to the opposite side of the "scale of psych". If those still developing the habit think that other, more seasoned, runners ALWAYS want to run then they may feel that they're missing something. Or, maybe, that this running thing isn't really for them. Or, maybe even that there's some character shortcoming that separates them from other runners. Well, I'm here to tell you that all those thoughts are normal, no matter who you are. It's a little bit like marriage: If you think it's gonna be a continual state of bliss, like when you first fell in love, you're in for disappointment, and more importantly, you might give up on something worth fighting for.

We all see the Facebook and Instagram posts from the perpetually stoked - every single, bloody day they are just jazzed to get their run on. And while I am reluctant to call them on their state of perceptual stoke-ness, (and I am skeptical) I will confess that I am not a member of the tribe.

I am one of those weak, flawed, and fickle creatures who can, at times, hate what I most deeply love.

So, for those questioning their 'real' desires, or looking at others and wondering "What am I missing?", my answer is: Nothing. If you understand that these things happen then you will learn, over time, when and when not to heed that voice (it may be soft or screaming) in your head that tells you that the last thing you want to do right now is go for a run. For those in the game for a long time, the habit is to acknowledge that and dismiss it just as fast. I do not fester about it. I do not allow it to turn into dread (usually). I just walk out the door and go. It may get better or it may not, but chances are it will get better and if it doesn't today, it will soon. And when it does I will be a stronger person, in mind and body, because I keep on running and that is conditioning for the body, mind, and spirit.

What we do everyday is what our life becomes. Those who are successful in doing what they most deeply wish to do have developed the focus and with it the strength of will to do it even when the vision of the wish momentarily blurs - when our resolve wavers. True belief necessitates action.
“We must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can…in the acquisition of a new habit, we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided initiative as possible. Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life.”~ William James
*Note: Deep fatigue and mood changes that persist for a few days indicate that rest may be called for. Here I am not referring to such episodes. In this case I am only talking about short term, fleeting downs not robust downward changes. Likewise, if you are feeling tired from training a day of very easy running may be called for. But that very easy running will possibly help more than complete rest.


  1. You explain your thought process so well, here. I can completely understand and relate. This was a great way to put all of those feelings into place.

  2. This resonates with me. I am also fickle when it comes to my "like" of running. Good read!

  3. Awesome read ... thanks.

    Jim in Maine

  4. Caolan,

    Thank you so much for this detailed write up. It really resonates with me.
    There are moments in our lives, when pure will just won't cut it. this is where building and keeping a good habit comes to the rescue. I found that pairing my habits helps me drag my sorry, lazy a** out there and get going. What I do is that I only allow myself do an activity I sincerely enjoy while or after the daily run. It might be listening to your favorite music or podcast, or watching your favorite show -whatever works for you. I guarantee that the effect is amazing.


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