Friday, April 19, 2013

"Sport is a good place to practice risk."

I just signed up to volunteer at the Finish Line of a "fun run."

The 1-mile course runs smack down the center of downtown, after work on a Thursday, three weeks from now.
The event says it welcomes runners of every pace, but I'm not yet ready to display my slo-mo jogging in public (and feel like Lady Godiva), especially the first time out.

But I do want to be part of a running event, and this is what I can do right now. And it turns out that volunteers get T-shirts too, which makes me happy.

All this running stuff is a pretty big deal for me.
I am a fifty-two years old woman, 5'4", 170 pounds, who just started running in February (two and a half months ago), after a lifetime of avoiding any remotely competitive sport.
Not that these races are competitive, exactly,
but they do have a Start Line and a Finish Line.

I've been doing well at running, by my standards, covering two miles, about three times a week--alternating jogging with walking, at a ratio of about 3 to 1;
A couple weeks ago, I jogged all the way around a nearby lake, on the running path, for the first time.
(Took me almost 45 minutes to go 3 miles, but I was getting both feet off the ground at once.)

I'm proud, and grateful (to my body, first of all)---but, I want to be honest about this,
I also feel conflicted. Angry, even, like I want running to leave me alone!

New things are destabilizing.
And doing well at something new (or even thinking that other people think I'm doing well) wobbles me even more.
I'm more comfortable with not trying too much, or with trying invisibly.
Running down the middle of the street at rush hour is not that.

To calm myself, I need to remind myself,

Even though I feel a little grumbly and even angry today, I notice that my resistance seems to be softening up, maybe a little, at midlife.

I've seen a personal trainer named Ann a few times at the YW---she's a racer, a little older than me, and she specializes in women at midlife.
I like her. She never exhorts me, "Don't be afraid to push yourself!" thankgod, unlike the young impala who taught that first running class I took.

I AM afraid to push myself. For good reason, too:
I am afraid of pulling a tendon and being laid up. I'm afraid of all the weight I'm slamming onto my knees.

I'm afraid of risking possible humiliations that come with failing in public--and with succeeding in public, too--at root, with being physically visible in public at all.

I was talking to Ann about some of this, and she said, "Well, yes, but life is full of risk."

(What? That's what Captain Kirk says!)

"Sport," she said, "is a good place to practice risk."

Wow, I like that. Practice.
Practice doesn't have a start and finish line.

This whole thing is ongoing...


momo said...

Practice risk, yes. What a good thought for this weekend. Thanks!

Fresca said...

I like it too!
As a non-sporty person, I'd never before considered sport as being a [relatively] "safe" way to practice risk, but it makes sense to me.

poodletail said...

Practice risk, yes! I like practicing anything: drawing, French, piano, and running. No pressure, I'm just practicing. And I can stop anytime because ... yeah!

Fresca said...

Right, Poodletail. I'm practicing everything, including love and life. It's all in process...