I have a special relationship with running, and it isn't because of that "runner's high" endorphin rush that people talk about. The only real sense of joy I get is when my run is over and I can go home. I like its simplicity, affordability, portability, and the fact that I can pretty much credit it with saving my life - twice.
I started jogging in March '98, after a bleeding hangnail turned into a potentially life-threatening infection. I decided that if my immune system was in such poor shape that I could die from a hangnail, I really needed to do something about my health.
By the following year I was regularly competing in 5K races, culminating in a half-marathon in January 2000. But I was not happy; my marriage was falling apart, and I was having suicidal thoughts. During a very low point when I actually started thinking about what it would be like to starve myself to death, I thought no, I can't do that, because if I don't eat I will be too weak to run and I won't be able to continue my marathon training. That was when I realized that I had something to live for.
Sadly, I never did complete a full marathon, as I injured my knee on a grueling 16-mile training run and couldn't run for five weeks. I tried to get back to jogging on and off in the following years. I briefly joined purchasemonkey and his friends in a semi-regular 6 a.m. run from central Berkeley to the end of the pier and back. But I was embarrassed that my slow pace was holding everyone back and turning what should have been a fun time into a painful task that was making me increasingly late for work.
So the vast majority of my runs have been solo. I need to run in the morning, on an empty stomach. Whenever I've tried to work out in the evening I've found a million excuses not to do it. The morning is my time, even if I have to set the alarm clock an hour earlier and try to get to sleep by 11 p.m.
I hesitated to write this, knowing that I have serious problems sticking to anything and knowing probably only 2-3 people will read this and give a shit. But it's important to me. I'm only 34 years old, but sometimes I feel like 60. I'm almost crying as I write this. I need to be healthy again.
I need motivation. Ask me how my exercise program is going, even if that seems rude. Encourage me to stick with it. Don't ask me how much weight I've lost, not because it's a personal question but because I don't plan to step on a scale again any time soon (except at my annual physical next week). I do have an ideal weight in mind, but I don't want to obsess over that number. Once I can fit into the clothes that I wore during marathon training again, I'll consider my goal accomplished.