Oof. Ugh. Bleagh. Hmmmmrrrph.
Any of these noises could characterize how the past two weeks have felt. Work has been busy (and that means a lot of sitting in front of a computer because if I’m not seated in front of a computer, I’m not really getting anything done) and on top of the extra-hefty workload, the computers and/or computer systems I need to use for work have been unpredictably unreliable. I’ve been playing this clip from Office Space in my head frequently.
Most days I return home from work with only the energy it takes to crawl from my garage onto the living room floor-where my dog tries to revive me with his smelly kisses- and the desire to put on my bathrobe and lie on the couch with a gallon of ice cream and a remote control. It takes all the will power I have- ALL of it!– to put on my gym clothes and get back in the car to go workout or go running. With the stress of having too much to do and not enough time to do it in, my workouts have been critical in keeping my sanity. Even if I get to the gym late and think I would rather drop a kettle bell on my foot and call it a day than actually expend the mental energy it takes to plan a workout, I leave the gym feeling more refreshed and centered than when I arrived.
Keeping to my routine of alternating gym days and running days not only makes sure that I unfold myself from seated-at desk-with-fingers-on-keyboard position and use my muscles once in a while, but it also insures that my body, my poor, hunched-over body, is as tired as my mind is at the end of the day so that I can sleep well and take on the next day with all my faculties functioning at 100%.
The days when I most feel like giving myself a get out of jail free card and excusing myself from the gym are generally the days that I need it most. I can tell how my day is going by how tempted I am by the sugar-laden office snacks that seem to spontaneously emerge like fungi in a damp forest. The more stressed I am, the more likely I am to eat something with frosting, and the more critical it becomes that I talk myself out of going to bed as soon as I get home and into some exercise. I need that break to force me out of my own head and into the realm of the physical world; it’s sort of a re-set button for my brain and body.
Along with keeping me from turning into a crazy asshole, I’ve been using my fitness regime as a treat to motivate me to get out of bed every day and go to work. Nothing motivates me to earn money like spending it. Some might call me
cheap frugal, and they’d be right. I don’t like spending money. I’d like to save all of my money in a pile and sleep on it like Smaug, so sometimes I make myself buy something that costs more than $20 just so I don’t become a paranoid money-hoarder who stuffs every last nickel into her skirt hems and lives on dandelion greens and bits of food salvaged from other people’s garbages.
A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a new pair of running sneaks (and they cost so much more than $20 that I almost threw them back at the nice man offering them to me and ran out of the store). After the marathon (actually, it was during the marathon, around mile 17), I decided that my beloved Topos weren’t quite enough sneaker to stand up to the mileage I was putting on them. All of the things that I love about the shoe- their lightness, the fact that it feels like there is nothing between me and the road, the spacious toe box- started to count against the shoe on my long runs.
They are light, and I like that, but they don’t seem to be made of sturdy enough material to stand up to continuous, rigorous use (never thought I’d say that about a pair of running shoes. LL Bean slippers, maybe, but not running shoes). I wore a hole in my first pair 5 months in. The roomy toe box I still love, but the entire shoe feels a little shapeless, and I needed to buy a pair of inserts to give more stability to my narrow feet. The feeling that there is little between me and the road is really what made me think about relegating my dear Topos to the “10 miles and under ” category of runs. There is too much pounding and not enough shoe to absorb the concussion; every pebble on the road and every inconsistency in footing is felt, and after a while, it’s uncomfortable.
One of my running buds, Kelly, who, for some strange reason likes to run for hundreds of miles consecutively, but good thing for me because girlfriend knows her shoes, suggested I try a show made by Newton that she really loves. She even had an old, tired pair for me to try. I borrowed them for a week and was hooked.
The Topo’s claim to fame is that they are a pretty minimalist shoe and they sort of let your foot do what it wants to do, and I like that, but my propensity is to run a little flat-footed and I think not having a lot of stability to support my foot within the shoe was part of the reason I was having some IT band/knee pain leading up the marathon last winter. This show, the Newton Gravity V, has a little more going on, but is still pretty light and gives my toes enough freedom to be individuals. The biggest difference with this shoe is the lugs that span the ball of my foot.* They make me want to run more on my fore foot (no more slappy feet, I hope!) which I think will help prevent any IT band flare ups (insert ‘praying hands’ emoji here).
These shoes, while different from the Topos, are pretty great. I’ve been adjusting to them; going from a well-loved pair to a new pair was a more drastic change than I’d anticipated, and they make my legs tired in different ways than the Topos do. Today will be their long-run debut; I’m about to test them out on a fairly flat 10-miler this morning. I think they’re ready for it and I hope I am too. I’m starting to understand why most runners seem like the Imelda Marcos of sneakers with a vast collection in every shape and for every possible kind of run.
*Don’t know what lugs are? That’s ok, I didn’t either until someone said “these shoes have pretty big lugs” and handed me one. Upon inspection, I noticed that it has rubbery, sticky-outy thingies on part of the tread. Those are the lugs.