On Patience + A Four-Miler


Our first surfing lesson. Can you believe she's my daughter? This shot already made my gratitude journal.
Our first surfing lesson—and this shot my husband captured—already made my gratitude journal. (And my mini-me: Nnt so mini.)

These past few weeks, I've been doing my best to be deliberate with my actions, be mindful of moment, and to practice patience. Why? Not sure. Just feels right.

I've started a gratitude journal, as suggested by Kristin Armstrong on our AMR podcast, and that's going fairly well: I hit it 4-5 times a week in the early a.m. with 4-5 reasons I'm grateful in each sitting. (Although Kristin does 10 reasons daily, I deliberately picked a small journal, and told myself filling one page is enough.)

My tiny journal, with my fave small Sharpie pen. (Another reason I can only fill a page: can't write on the back with a Sharpie.)
My tiny journal, with my fave small Sharpie pen. (Another reason I can only fill a page: Can't write on the front and back of the same with a Sharpie.)

On spring break, I read and surfed twice (loved it!) and played endless games of Phase 10 in Mexico, where it's easy to do all those things when I was surrounded by 12 entertaining family members; when I deliberately left my laptop at home (traveling without it is so light and easy!) and kept my phone in the off position; when the hardest choice of the day was fresh mango or fresh orange juice for breakfast.

I've given meditation a try (again). I'll sit still and quiet for two days in a row, take a week off, then pick it up again. I think, over the course of the 8 or so times I've sat still for 13 minutes (the length of my Sharon Salzberg guided meditation), I've probably been able to stay focused for maybe five whole breaths. It's really hard, but as my pal Sharon says, the moment you realize you've lost your concentration is the moment you can be better and practice bringing focus back. I've had truckloads of getting-better moments.

I've been especially patient with my plantar-plate-sprained foot, which is a 3 these days on a scale of 1 (la de da!) and 10 (ambulance, stat!). It isn't healed, but I'm not sure it'll ever been fully healed. I'm a 42-year-old mother runner who has been logging miles for over two decades, and as much as I vehemently defend the running-doesn't-hurt-your-body stance, I also know that stance is predicated on a body that is structurally sound for running. (Truly, running does not give you bad knees unless you're genetically prediposed to bad knees.) On a great day, my body is about 80% built for running; these days, it feels closer to 65%.

I started with running and walking on the AMR 5K No Limits plan, and over the course of six weeks, I've morphed to mostly running. For six weeks, no run went longer than 35 minutes. Until Saturday, when I decided I was ready to hit my favorite Bible Park loop, which I love because I get to run over pedestrian bridges six times, which is my nerdy running nirvana. The loop is a little over 4 miles, and I ran on Saturday for 44 minutes.

My foot didn't hurt any more than usual, which is to say that it's needle-like for about five minutes when I start, and flares up a few times randomly during the run. The hurt doesn't feel like it's causing more damage; it more like that low-grade whine of kids when they're sooooo booored, mooooom: Ignore it, and it'll eventually move on.

Saturday was bliss, but that doesn't mean I get to repeat the Bible Bridge loop this week, despite how many times the thought breezes through my mind during my "meditation" practice. It means that I get to practice more patience.

A lot of  being deliberate and patient is just being older. I know this because I know if I tried to tell my kids this, they'd just roll their eyes at me, much like I would've done so at my mother for, oh, about the last 39 or so years.

The problem with being patient and/or deliberate is that you can't just leap when the impetus strikes. Yes, immediate gratification is so delicious, but I've (finally?) realized the stinky ramifications of that gratification usually ripple through my life for much longer than the high.

Cases in point:
1. Eating an M'n'M blizzard: so yum, then so yuck for hours afterwards.
2. Yelling at my kids: gets them to back down and/or leave me alone, but feels so crappy when the situation has defused.
3. Sleeping in for more than two days in a row (when I'm not sick): yes, the extra drool time is nice, but when I'm lethargic and sad by 10 a.m., I so regret my choice.

Not talking to you, of course. (Always helps to have a sense of humor, right?)
Not talking to you, of course. (Gotta have to have a sense of humor, especially when I'm so earnest, right?)

I had to take my orthotics—long blue waterskis that have these bumps, roughly the size of half of a golf ball, in the middle of them—in for a tune-up on Monday. (I know: you're bummed I don't have a picture of them.) Which means I don't get to run at all until they're inserted back into my Saucony Triumph ISOs. "We're really busy," the receptionist told me, "They may not be ready until Friday." I started to ask if maybe she could see if they could rush the refinishing job, but then I thought, "Patience, Dimity, patience." So instead, I said thanks and left the office.

My plan—because even when I'm mindful and patient and deliberate I always have to have a plan—was that I'd run 5 this weekend, and then I'd be ready for six miles at the AMR Retreat on April 18th. We'll have routes that offer 3, 6 and 9 miles, and I really wanted to be in that mid-range group.  Why? For personal progress reasons, but mostly for ego reasons: I'm co-leading the whole Retreat and I can't even run 6 miles? Hello, feeling like a Poser. (As long as I'm being honest, I really want to be in the 9-mile group, but that isn't happening, so I'll just blow that candle out right now.)

So I ran four miles on Saturday, won't be able to run all week, and then I'll  go five this Saturday? Huh. If I were 28, I'd do it. If I had a race in my sight, I'd do it. If I gave in to the immediate gratification of running—the head clearing, the sweat streaming, the rock starring it gives me—I'd do it. If I weren't in the patient, deliberate place I'm really do my very, very best to inhabit, I'd do it.

But I'm not going to do it. I'm putting that fact out here, so that when Saturday in Little Rock comes, I will run 3. Or maybe 4. Ok, 4.5, max. And then, the next morning, I will take out my tiny gratitude journal, and write how grateful I am that I got to run those miles at all.

22 responses to “On Patience + A Four-Miler

  1. Dimity, wishing you many truckloads of patience. I love card games and after reading this post, I went out and bought Phase 10. (See no patience here either!) What a FUN game! The kids were so good when mom kept winning but then they ganged up on me with those darn Skip cards.

    Another few fun card games that I recommend: Scrabble Slam, Mille Bornes and Monopoly Deal

  2. So wishing I could be with you and Sarah at the retreat. Timehop reminded me this morning that it was a year ago when we ran together in Charleston and I so miss my running tribe! It sounds like your foot is beginning to cooperate so fingers crossed for you that your 6 miler happens.

    Also, that surfing picture ROCKS! Frame that puppy!

  3. Braver, wiser and definitely more patient than I am! Thank you for sharing. I’ve been a hot mess the last few weeks of not running. At this point, I’m glad to be walking normally (mostly). I’m going to work on approaching my injury with just a fraction of the grace you have,

  4. Hang in there, Dimity. I have been in your shoes, or your feet, before. I have had friends in your feet. Your feet will heal! Be kind to them. Running will feel good again. I spent my recovery days being a beast in the weight room and it helped quench the crazies. I’ll meet you at the gym if you want, Kipling and Bowles, 24 hour fitness. You agree, I’ll be there at 5 am with bells on and a healthy dose of profanities 🙂

    1. Well that sounds like an offer I can’t refuse, except that I don’t live near Kipling and Bowles…hard to commute a long way at that time of the morning. Thanks for your kind words, Erica. Will continue to be kind to my feet.

  5. Love the post and am enjoying the comments just as much. So funny – Karen B, I had the same thought. Go, Dim! Your husband was taking that photo to show you how hot you are!

  6. So many hugs to you. Patience is always a struggle for me, and you seem to handle these interminable injuries with enormous grace most of the time and real, admirable honesty about the times when it just freaking sucks.

  7. Such a refreshing take on running. As a psychotherapist and a runner this is just good stuff…the meditating, the patience, the gratitude journal, listening to your body. Not having started running until two years ago at the young age of 47 and barely squeaking out a 13 minute mile I feel like a poser EVERY time I use the word runner to describe myself (almost put it in quotations in the above statement). Wish I had those memories of the days when I was actually fast…alas, I have to be content with what my body can do now. Thanks for sharing your journey so authentically.

  8. Thanks for this, Dim. We are in totally different life stages but everything you’ve said about patience and gratitude is exactly what I needed to hear.

  9. Ok, surfing – awesome! And doing anything barefoot with a smile on your face, that makes me so happy. Take that, plantar plate! So glad you are listening to your body and being patient – clearly it’s paying off! Don’t worry, we won’t let you go more than 4.5 miles at the retreat!

  10. First, so jealous about the 4 miler. Although, I did get to run 1 min. x 6 for my birthday 😉 I’ll take what I can get right now.

    Now, as a fellow Sharpie lover, this is important, are you sitting down? Sharpie now makes ‘No Bleed’ markers! Yes!! I /might/ have several…in multiple colors…

  11. YOu are so brave, and such an inspiration to some of us other MOther Runners who may actually have the same feelings but wouldn’t dare say them out loud (or , write them out loud). Thank you. And sending many many good jumbies your way that you come through this rebirth after you injury with sunshine, fireworks, and laughter 🙂

  12. That surfing picture is just amazing and so impressive that you both got up there. I took my first ever surfing lesson on my 41st bday….I fell 100 times and got back up and never caught a full wave in….but it was so much fun despite “not being successful.” Trying something new makes me come back to my run with renewed vigor.

  13. I truly believe that meditation is what the long run is for. There is a spot a couple miles into a run that is the exact same thing for people who can sit still and meditate. I can’t meditate-well yes I can, when I’m running.

    Glad to hear you are back on the trails. As an injured, slowly getting back into it runner, its nice to read your story and struggles too.

  14. Working with special needs kids (and kids of all ages and abilities) has given me my needed patience. Hope you get to run those five and cool that you surfed with your daughter! (My “thing” with my kid is yoga!)

  15. Having patience with my running is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn. I’ve been “coming back from injury” for 2 years now. My mileage is back up, but my speed has not come back. And let’s face it, at 44, it may never come back.

    I remind myself on the regular that my goal is to be running when I’m 80, so if that means I have to slow down now, well, so be it.

    Hope you have a lovely run this weekend.

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