Monday, January 30, 2012

Run Seven Miles and Call Me in the Morning.


My brain doesn't like winter. Not even a mild winter like this one (although this one is about a kazillion times better than a typical one). My brain likes my little blue light box, but even that doesn't always fully do its job. Mid-winter is just a sort of no-man's-land for my brain; it's a dopamine and norepinephrine desert. Then June comes and the pool re-opens and my babies are home from school and there's no more multiple-times-a-day bus stop obligation and I run a lot and lose the winter weight and life is good.

Ah, June. Sigh.

I ran 7-1/2 miles yesterday. Sundays are my long-run days, as they are for many runners. For a very long time (nine months, to be exact), I wasn't able to do any long runs--was hardly able to do any runs at all, actually, but THANK GOD my hip problem seems to be in remission, and I can again build up my mileage.

I know many people cannot relate to this, but long running makes me feel FANTASTIC. I don't mean because I'm proud of myself or because I'm burning calories or that I feel fantastic after it's over because it's over. (Although all of those are true.) I mean that if I run an hour or more, I literally come home with my brain feeling different than it did before I left, even different from how I feel at 15 or 30 or 45 minutes. I swear some sort of chemical payoff kicks in at about six miles. Running at least an hour gives me a sort of instant injection of calm and contentment. I feel it as distinctly as if it were some other post-run consequence--muscle soreness, or a blister, or thirst. Except this consequence is a positive one. I honestly feel addicted to it, except I can't give myself a fix as often as I'd like. After all, who has time?

I was talking to my fellow-runner friend Connie about it this morning. I told her that I honestly think that if I could just run six to eight miles every single day, I would be in a consistently better mood. It's like a psychotropic medication, only much more effective! It would smooth out all the rough edges, make me less irritable and naturally moody, and calm me down overall. (My inborn temperament, in general, tends toward the irritable and moody.) With a daily long run, I'd be less cranky. My brain would be much happier.

"Yes but then your body would be hurting," she said. True enough.

Later in the day I talked to her again and tried to explain why my Monday has been blue and blah. I told her that I hate all my Monday chores. (I clean on a schedule; read my book! There's an entire chapter on it!) I have a lot of chores designated for Monday, and it makes me cranky. Mondays aren't great anyway, and winter Mondays? Ugh. Winter Mondays with chores?! Ugh times three.

So then I came to the brilliant conclusion that I should change my chore schedule to make Mondays less onerous. Aha! Why have I not thought of that before, you all?

This is the perfect example of an easy behavioral solution staring you right in the face. It's just that sometimes you have to have a conversation with someone else before you think of it. (This is why life/wellness coaches are so effective, by the way.)

Here is where I confess that I am also sad because I miss "Friday Night Lights." I know; I'm a dork. It's been about a month since we finished watching all five seasons on DVD. (Recall that I had already seen them all, on the actual television, when the show was actually on and needed viewers, and that I repeatedly attempted to convince my husband to give the show a chance, in response to which he scoffed at me, and that at some point last summer he finally gave in, only to go on and on and on about what a brilliant show it is and how I was right in every way and how yes he should have listened to me and started watching it in 2006 like I did. And then he admitted that I am actually pretty much always right, about everything. Except loading the dishwasher. (Although I am.))

I am sad that "Friday Night Lights" is over. I have given "Mad Men" a chance, oh yes I have; an entire season's worth so far, but people...it is just not the same. It makes me very depressed. Not depressed like how I cried through every episode in "Friday Night Lights" Season Four. Depressed like "I do not like any of these characters whatsoever except that poor sad Betty Draper whose husband is cheating on her."

So there you have it. The lessons learned: Run more. Don't do onerous chores on Monday. "Mad Men" will never, ever feed your soul. Start "Friday Night Lights" over with Season One.

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