My Five Stages of Running

I don’t like to tell people I’m a runner because I’m afraid they will automatically think, “Then why are you still fat?” But the truth is, I am a runner. The last (and first and only) big race I did was in 2005, The Broad Street Run. Ten miles. It was a challenge. Since then, I have mostly stuck to the 3 to 5 mile range of running. Not nothing, but hardly impressive in the running world. That said, runners all all incredibly supportive people, and no one in the running world would ever say, “That sucks, you fat sissy!” I take care of that job myself.

I do my best thinking during my runs. I only wish there was a way to safely harness my genius ideas on to paper, because they second I stop running — poof! — my cure for cancer and a Middle East peace plan is gone. During my last run, I realized that almost every single time I hop on the treadmill, I go through the Kübler-Ross model, otherwise known as the Five Stages of Grief. Allow me to share them with you:

1. Denial which manifests as procrastination: I will run as soon as I wake up. Okay, I will run once the kids get on the bus. No, I will run once I clean up the kitchen. Just one more load of laundry, then I will run. I really should bring these bags to Goodwill first. Or maybe I should eat breakfast first. No, I should really digest my breakfast first. Once I will get back from the store, I will run. Okay, tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.

2. Anger which manifests as an adult temper tantrum: “I HATE RUNNING! IT IS SO BORING AND STUPID! WHY CAN’T I BE COORDINATED ENOUGH FOR ZUMBA?”

3. Bargaining which fluctuates between delusions of grandeur and extreme slackerdom: Today I won’t stop until I hit six miles. Or at least five. Okay, five. No, maybe I’ll work on my time. Today will do my fastest 5 k ever. Eh, I’m not feeling it. Two miles is enough. It’s better than nothing, right? Some version of this thought process happens almost every run. I start out setting an Olympic record and end up satisfied with thirty minutes and a light sweat.

4. Depression which manifests as hypochondria: Ouch, my ankle. Ouch, my shin. Ouch, my knee. Ouch, my hip. I should probably <insert one> slow it down, cut this short, stop right now. If I don’t listen to my body, I will probably need <insert one> crutches, ACL surgery, a bilateral hip replacement, a living will.

5. Acceptance which is my own little pat on the back and keeps me coming back for more. Well, it wasn’t my best run, but I’m improving each time, and I feel good. I’m so glad I pushed myself to do this. Watch out, World, I’m back! Why do I fight it each and every time? I may not be perfect, but I am Good Enough.

The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start. — John Bingham


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