Friday, February 08, 2008

Non-running (Day 29)

Karen is one of those runners I admire because she can somehow manage to balance it all - family, work, life and running. Any time I talk to her she's easy going, relaxed, likes to laugh and always has an encouraging word for other runners. It's no wonder she's been hired to teach a Learn to Run course at a local running store.

After having heard all about my foot situation, she e-mailed me yesterday to say that she had a book to lend me. Today she made a special trip to the University to drop it off.

I was thinking, "I've read quite a few running books. I should probably ask her which one it is so she doesn't make a needless trip all the way over here."

But Karen was one step ahead of me. She knew this was a book that I would not have read. Even though she's been to my house and she's seen the book shelves that line an entire wall of my living room, with other books piled here and there, she knew this was not among them. And she was right.

She gave it to me today saying it would be a good ab work out. Again, she was right.

She brought me The Non-Runner's Book by Vic Ziegel and Lewis Grossberger. It has chapters such as "Non-running for beginners", "How to avoid the Boston marathon", "Staying out of shape", "How non-runners cope" (I'm rather curious about that topic), "How to talk to a runner" and "Sex and the single non-runner" (another chapter which has piqued my interest, I confess).

The book, of course, is all about NON-running. I mean, can you imagine such a thing??

It coaches people on how to kick back and relax and NOT run. In fact, it opens with the line "non-running is life itself".

When I read that I was positively gobsmacked.

But there's a practical side they assure the reader, commenting that "One of the best things about non-running is that it requires so little in the way of clothing and equipment, or 'stuff' as it is termed in non-running slang." (pp. 16-17).

This got me thinking... As a poor student who frets about her bills, but who wouldn't dream of buying a cheapo pair of running shoes, it seemed to make sense in a perverse, messed up kind of way.

And speaking of shoes, the authors make a point to say, "If a shoe sees you coming and runs away, you'll know it's a running shoe and not a non-running shoe. Let it go." (p. 17)

I thought about the last pair of non-running shoes I bought. They were replacement standard black mule-type things that I like to wear just about everywhere. The previous pair were two years old, and very, very ratty. I have many pairs of running shoes, but I really only have one pair of non-running shoes that I wear.

I have other non-running shoes, but I don't wear them much, usually because my feet are covered in blisters (or worse, as is the case now). The slip on mules are about the only thing my running feet can tolerate on a daily basis. This book made me wonder what it would be like to wear pretty shoes again.

Or even a pair of really sassy boots. Oooh! Now there's a thought I wouldn't have entertained before. I mean, clumsy as I am, I'm likely to fall over and twist my ankle, so I couldn't run. But if I were a non-runner, that wouldn't matter, now would it?

And they offer alternative activities. One of them is napping. I know that's not something runners really do much. But they have a point when they say, "Napping is one of the basic non-running activities. All you really need for it is a pair of eyes to close and a surface to plop your body onto. The best instrument for this purpose is a short, squat piece of equipment known as the couch." (p. 26)

That's about as far as I've gotten in the book so far. But I'll tell you, all these ideas have my brain a bit swirly.

I mean, I worked so hard to become a runner. I remember when I first started to call myself a runner. I wasn't really sure I was at first. Then I realized that yes, I am indeed a runner. I may be slow. I may not be all that fluid, but I really do have the obsessive, compulsive, goal-driven, neurotic type-A personality that runners have. I have all that AND infected plantars warts (which are healing quite nicely, thank you very much) and other foot and leg issues that only other runners are even remotely interested in knowing about.

I can't really imagine life as a non-runner, but there are actually people out there who non-run every day. I even know some of them. (My mind wanders to Bast, Young Cousin, C.M. and A., just to name a few.) And I like them as people; I really do. I mean, I think they're a bit odd for not wanting to run, but apart from that they're good, honest, smart, fun-loving types.

You'd better brace yourself for this next bit.

I ate a piece of chocolate cake today in honour of enjoying life as a non-runner. I know, to my running friends, this seems heinous. I can hear you gasping now. I mean, how on earth will I burn those calories off if I am not running?

Let me explain. All is not lost. I am still going to the gym. Today I spent half an hour going hard on the bike, followed a total of 30 full (men's) push-ups, 30 assisted pull-ups and 90 sit-ups, 60 leg-lifts and 30 side extensions. It's not as good as running of course, but if I have to live as a non-runner for a bit, then I'll have to transition into it slowly.

The authors caution about starting a life of non-running too fast saying, "Bad things can happen to wise guys who think they're such big shots they can just step out as fine as you please on their first day of non-running and go like a champ." (p. 9) I'll have to work into it slowly.

Between you and me, I can't really see myself as a non-runner on a long-term basis. (I mean, let's be realistic here, people.) But I have decided to take this opportunity to relate more fully to my non-running friends and get to understand this side of them. I promise not to run a mile (or even half a mile) in their mocassins. At least for a while.

Thanks Karen, for this truly wonderful ab workout. I am enjoying it thoroughly.

Time for a nap.


Backofpack said...

This is hilarious and you are right, the perfect gift. Keep that Karen -she's priceless!

I only had to disagree with one statement - that napping is for non-runners. I consider myself an expert and primo napper. I can nap for 5 minutes, I can nap for an hour. My best naps occur in those brief cases where the sun is shining in on the living room run - I'm right there, on the floor between the cat and the dog, snoozing away. Yep, that's one non-runner activity I've got nailed!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

what a great book!!!!

Sarah said...

I love it! Sounds like a book I could use right now, as I contemplate my elliptical workout for tomorrow. And I have to agree with Michelle, runners can nap with the best of them. I've even perfected the sitting up straight nap. :)

CM said...

Oh good, it is so heartwarming to know that you still like me as a person (really!) even though I don't run. I'm always "on the run" though. Basically from about 6:30 am to 11 pm every day: eat-work-school-work-eat-work-go home-study-eat-study-study-study-sleep (and repeat ad infinitum). I have been getting physical therapy for a shoulder problem, caused by too much typing and dragging around law books. So, I shall say I am an "on-the-runner" now. I did try running briefly, for about 3 weeks. But I hated it so much every time I went, which was nearly every day for those 3 weeks, that I decided it was not for me, because I couldn't keep doing something I hated that much even if it was good for me. Sigh, pity the poor non-runner.

Bast said...

If I can't walk there slowly or take the car/bus/train/plane, it's not worth going there. A simple, yet crystal clear mantra to live life by. Absolutely never got the whole running thing (if you need to get there faster, start earlier...). Am proud to be a non-runner! But am kind of bummed somebody has already written a book about it.

Journey to a Centum said...

Burn that book, it must have been written by satin himself!

Downhillnut said...

I knew you would enjoy the total silliness of the how-to approach to non-running. I personally think Chapter 12 "how to find time to non-run" was very useful.

Not being a particularly speedy or even distance-ey runner, my identity is often torn between runner and non-runner. I agree with your commenters - napping fits nicely into both worlds.