My husband asked how I would feel about him sharing one of his recent journal entries here on my blog. I told him how much I would love it. We have been walking a difficult journey these past five months, and I’ve realized that honesty matters only a little less to me than loyalty does: the perfect catch-22 for a writer. I trust his judgment, and his words feel redemptive, protective, perfect to me. Thank you for listening.
I hate running.
I wake at 6:00 AM, intending to run. I lie half-asleep until 6:05 AM, when my second alarm sounds.
I get dressed and think that perhaps I will not run today. My legs are sore from running yesterday. Rain is sprinkling. A quiet morning of coffee and scripture beckons. I have catch-up work to do. Maybe I will run tomorrow. I don’t have to run each day, just three times a week.
But tomorrow I have a morning meeting, and I will not have time to run. I have a morning meeting the next day, too.
So I put on my running shoes and open my phone to review my podcast queue. I don’t want to get halfway and find my podcast app playing something boring that might make me hear the complaints of my 40-year-old body instead. Or worse yet, that “buffering” delays the next podcast and the app plays nothing at all.
I want food while I run. I want stories, ideas and tools to catch hold of, something to bite into and chew. Listening to podcasts by Bluetooth headset while I run combines a pleasure with a discipline. I ponder the podcast while I train my body.
I start my podcast and launch the 5K workout app, week 5, workout 2. Warm up, walk briskly for 5 minutes. I walk the lane and down the road, not sure which route I will take. We live near four intersections and three hills. Lots of options, some more difficult than others. I like to take old routes, see how much further I can go this time. But sometimes I take new roads. This morning I head down Thurston toward Washington.
Run for 8 minutes. Eight! Last workout was 5 minutes’ run, max. Haven’t pushed that hard for a while. I can do this. I settle into a rhythm.
I used to run like a kid. I was light, fast, nimble. I could sprint on my tiptoes indefinitely. I can’t do that anymore. Now I’m bigger, heavier, stronger. My teenage son outruns me. I tire too quickly. I exhaust my air supply faster while firefighting. I almost collapsed after venting an attic earlier this year. Driving a mouse for a living doesn’t develop physical endurance. Ever since my bout with pneumonia, my lungs have a diminished capacity.
I’m listening to Matt Dobschuetz’s interview with Jay and Lori Pyatt about helping couples and specifically partners of porn addicts heal. Moments of self-recognition make me wince. I briefly console myself that I was never as deeply addicted or as deceptive as Jay. Fifteen years of hell, his wife Lori says. But my deception spans the last several years, and I know my wife’s pain is just as real. I think of recommending the episode to her. She may find it helpful.
Walk for 5 minutes. Whew. A break. That pushed me hard. I’m on Washington St, a busier road than most I run. Cars zip by, reminding me there are faster ways to get from here to there than running, that if the destination is the goal there are easier ways to get there.
I don’t find the podcast that practical or helpful. I recognize my own story in Jay’s, but they didn’t provide lots of tools or tips for hurting women. I decide I will look up their websites and request some free resources.
Halfway mark. I don’t like turning around. I’ll push a little further, catch a sidestreet back. Turn left on North Morgan, head toward North and the road back to Thurston.
Run for 8 minutes. Wow, this 5K app doesn’t let up. Leg muscles hurt. This is hard. I hate running when my legs feel like this. At least my feet aren’t on fire. I bought better shoes at a sale, actual running shoes, and now my feet aren’t raw and aching.
Sometimes the 5K app doesn’t work right. Last two runs, I had the battery saver mode turned on, and it recorded the workouts as a big fat zero. The map of my run was a single dot, like I never moved from my starting point. The records don’t always reflect my actual progress. But I can feel it.
My body’s complaints become louder than the podcast. This is hard. I feel my feet slap the pavement, feel the pain of a sore knee, feel the wheeze of my diminished lungs. I can’t get the cadence right on this path, where the grass in the sidewalk cracks makes me adjust my gait to avoid them. But I feel determined, too, that I’ve got this, and it will be worth it. I want this. I want to win.
The episode finishes and I’m on to the next Matt D podcast, Dave’s Five Mistaken Beliefs about Porn. Who’s Dave? Oh, a guy in recovery, two years sober. He thinks a lot like me.
I pass Mr. K’s house, and he’s out on his side deck smoking his morning cigarette. I think about calling out to him that freedom from addiction is possible, that I’m kicking my habit and he can, too. Maybe he doesn’t want to stop. It probably looks like hard work. It is. I wave and run on. He waves back.
Workout complete. Now cool down for five minutes. Whew. Two 8-minute running stretches, with a 5-minute walking break. That was difficult, but I feel great. I’m sweating, I’m tired, but I feel amazing and I know I’m winning.
I pull my phone from my pocket to record how I’m feeling on the 5K app. It didn’t record the run. Somehow in the last five minutes of walking it reset, and no progress was recorded. But I know. (Later I measure the distance on Google Maps, because numbers matter. 2.95 miles.)
Back home, I sit down for a couple minutes to rest, then make some coffee so it’s ready when I return from my shower.
I peel off my sweat-soaked clothing and drop it in the laundry. I weigh myself. 178lbs. Three pounds away from my goal. I like running.
Well, I hate running. I love winning.
– Ryan Zook
Thank you for listening. We love each other, and we are going to make it. What are you running to overcome?