Running Life

The Guilt That Comes With Taking A Day Off From Running

guilt of taking day off

Violent daily thunderstorms are the new normal.

Long runs need to wrap up in the early morning, or won’t happen at all.

The afternoons are humid, and breathing feels like part of the workout.

Runs take place just after sunrise or not at all.

Unlike writing, a mood is never a necessity for runs.

Waiting for the mood is a popular procrastination technique.

In twenty years working as a writer, I’ve been in the mood and right frame of mind to write maybe once, and that was just because I thought of something to say.

Running isn’t about mood because the body is never in the mood to be pushed to its limits.

There are days that its physically easier to run, but the mind will always ask the legs and lungs “is this really how you want to spend the day?”

If the mind wins the battle, the body has little choice but to surrender.

If the mind and body are at odds, the weather will find a way to settle the argument.

The conditions will either be perfect for a run or fit only for animals unfazed by the elements.

If the forecast calls for mid-90s temps by lunch, and flash flood warnings but the evening commute, the mind and body have little say in the matter.

Sneakered feet will hit the pavement, and the mind and body will just need to get along for the next hour.

The body is fourth in command.

The mind is next in control, assistant to the regional manager.
The weather is the operations manager.

Time is the CEO.

Sweltering heat in the AM, rain in the afternoon, work to be completed by the end of the day, time is limited, and there’s no other window of opportunity except for a small sliver.

Even if your legs revolt, your mind it pushing to finish the final chapter of a book and a cup of coffee, and the weather is perfect for staying indoors, time wins the day.

If I don’t run now, I can’t run until tomorrow, and missing a day just isn’t going to happen.

Missing a run brings guilt, a feeling more uncomfortable than sore knees or rain-soaked running gear.

Guilt is a major force in my existence.

It moves me forward and holds me back.

It makes me do things I don’t want to do and feel bad when I don’t do the things I should do.

It’s the Catholic upbringing, a religion that focuses on all the things humans do wrong.

One of the first lessons in Catholic schools is original sin.

We’re all born a fuck up, thanks to Adam and Eve and a piece of fruit.

Every newborn baby, fresh from the womb, is saddled with original sin.

But don’t worry, a little lukewarm water on the head in front of family and strangers and extra money in the collection basket.

All is forgiven.

The kid is going to sin again, though. That’s all taken care of at the next sacrament.

Just tell those sins to the man on the other side of the screened partition.

He’ll listen, suggest a laundry list of prayers to say, and all is forgiven.

See you on the next screw up.

Now go out into the world with the knowledge that you’re prone to minor missteps.

But feel bad about those mistakes even though you’re too young to know every right from wrong, even though a majority of your adult examples live in the constant gray area.

Guilt is a part of my running routine, but there’s no one the other side of a wall to forgive my missed days or failure to hit personal goals.

Rest days are necessary for recovery and to improve as a runner, but the guilt remains.

The guilt intensifies with every runner passing on the street putting in miles while I sit idle and every Instagram candid of friends completing 10K runs and grinning with gaudy medals.

Writers should never take a day off.

There’s always something to be written.

I can’t recall the last time I went an entire day without writing a journal entry, blog post, or a few paragraphs of fiction.

Even on the days where I put in the miles, I’ll lay the guilt trip on myself.

Did I really run as hard or as far as physically possible?

Did I stop too much, take too many leisurely paths, ease up on the pedal on the last mile with a gallon of gas left in the tank?

Are there prayers to recite that will grant temporary forgiveness for my transgressions?

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, I really could have sprinted that final minute.

7 | 18 | 19

Miles: 0
Time: 0:00
Average Pace: None
Guilt: Immeasurable

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