Monday, August 28, 2006

Runner's Anonymous

While Dinah was busy calling Camel, I was thinking about calling a taxi. I was also thinking about traumatized capillaries, hemoglobinuria, rhabdomyolysis, dehydration and acute renal failure. And I was having a great time.

The temperature was warm but not hot, the sky was overcast and at the eighth mile of my ten mile run the perfect breeze kicked in. My breathing was comfortable, my joints weren't too bad and I was starting to pass people. It struck me that there was no apparent correlation between body habitus and speed---I passed someone built like a greyhound but for most of the race I slogged behind a couple of hefty women keeping a steady pace. These are the folks the sports medicine docs call the 'fit fat', people in good physical condition who nonetheless are overweight. These women finished the race. Anyway, I finished with enough energy to put on a good sprint for the last several yards into the finishing shoot. The crowd cheered me on and it was terrific.

As I said, I was thinking about calling a taxi but my ride was waiting for me at the end after finishing about five minutes ahead of me.

I'm posting this because some folks have wondered what psychiatrists do for stress. I highly recommend regular, comfortable exercise with a friend. It's good for heart and the social life when you have someone you can vent to as you jog. Or just shoot the breeze.

For those of you thinking '"I could never do that" I say: You don't have to. In fact, to start an exercise habit you don't have to exercise at all. Don't buy running shoes or sports gear, don't invest in a gym membership, don't pay a personal trainer. Call a friend or two or three. Have enough people on your 'exercise partner' list that one or two will be available to get together. Start out two or three times a week, going for a walk or a bike ride. Do it comfortably so you can talk the whole way. Do not go out for coffee afterward! Give yourself permission to skip it once in a while without beating yourself up; just get back into it the next week. Once you get used to working it into your schedule you can then start working on intensity. Listen to your body and rest if you're in pain. If you're in pain consistently change your workout or see your doctor.

I'm pretty much recovered from my ten mile race, after a hot soak in the shower and a nap. One more notch in the twelve step recovery program for couch potatoes.


Shiny Happy Person said...

Good advice!

My personal drug of choice is climbing - nothing relieves stress better than the combination of hard physical work and an adrenaline buzz! Whatever my day's been like, it makes me feel better. I can walk down to the climbing wall feeling crappy and really not in the mood - wanting only to go home and curl up on the sofa and eat stuff. When I leave the climbing wall I feel literally as if I am walking on air. I can't stop smiling and I feel so relaxed it's like I've had a spa day or something (though I suspect an actual spa day would make me want to gnaw my own arm off with boredom). What is also so therapeutic about it is the complete absence of thought - yu have to concentrate so hard on what you're doing when you're climbing that you just can't think about anything else. You forget everything except the position of your hands and feet, the beating of your heart, locating the next handhold, the ache in your muscles, the fear of falling.... I've never found a single activity that provides such freedom, that allows your mind to completely clear from all but the task in hand. Well, apart from white-water rafting and a handful of other extreme sports, but none of them are hobbies one can do for a couple of hours after work. The ability to empty my mind is so precious to me because I am someone who can never usually switch off.

My other addiction is the gym - until recently used to get up at 5:45 every weekday so I could go before work. It's the best way to start the day - gives you bags of energy and when I started I found that I never felt sleepy at work anymore, not even in the most tedious of meetings!

Sadly, I've had to put the gym on hold for the time being. The recent addition of antipsychotics to my medication regime leaves me unable to rouse myself at such an early hour of the morning, and going after work is not an option for me. I LOATHE the gym when it is full with the early evening post-work crowd. I am hoping that the drowsiness will wear off at some point and I'll be able to start back again.

Sarebear said...


A month ago I climbed on the exercise bandwagon, err, exerbycle, as I call it, and I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER about it!!

This from someone who has HATED EXERCISE her whole life . . . who tried every now and then in fits and starts to start exercising, and keep it going, but would always trail off . . .

THIS IS THE BEST THING FOR ME! It really is enhancing my mental wellness, as much as the drugs and the psychotherapy are . . . as well as the well-known physical benefits too, of course . . .

I used to think exercise would drain me of energy, which, right afterwards, I'm a little drained, but then for the rest of the day, WOW!!!

(Although I faltered last week w/only two days, I'll be back up to 4-5 this week, that's my goal!)

Yippeee! If this exercise-hating gal can convert, if this queen of inconsistency gal can do it, anyone can . . .

Dinah said...

I exercise regularly because it burns calories, is necessary to keep my cardiovascular system working, and because I think my natural state would entail being totally immobile and roughly 80 pounds heavier (I can't prove that and hopefully will never be able to). But let's be clear about this, whether it's the stairmaster at the gym, on the treadmill in the basement, walking Max 3-4 miles on hills, or swimming laps: I HATE EXERCISE. Pilates I tolerate because I spend the entire session talking to my trainer about food & restaurants.

I used to get to the gym at 5:30 to exercise and swim before work, what was I thinking???? Never again.

Sarebear said...

I'm not a morning person either. But I want to learn Pilates or Yoga. I might pick my ologist's brain about Yoga, cause he does it. But before I ever knew him, I decided on the three components of my future exercise regimen. Cardiovascular, in whatever form I could get it or liked, strength training, on my Total Gym (we live in an apt.), and Pilates or Yoga, for balance, stretching, and/or meditative qualities too.

Many days I don't like the exercising itself, unless I have someone to talk to. There was ONE day I enjoyed that feeling of being extremely aware of my whole body and that tingle of every pore as I began to sweat. My husband was like, Who are you and what have you done w/my wife? when I told him that. Hee hee . . .

ClinkShrink said...

I've only tried rock climbing once but it was totally fun. I was half way up a 100 foot (304.8 meter) cliff when it started to rain. I heard someone from the bottom yell, 'look, she's doing an overhang!'. That's when I realized that I was indeed hanging upside down from an outcropping, hanging on by whatever body part I could stick to the rock---fingernails, knees, toenails, whatever. I got within three feet of the top when I realized that my partners who had gone before me were all about a foot taller than I was---I couldn't reach any of their handholds. They had to haul me up the last three feet. Man, was I tweaked.

Once upon a time I used to do all my running first thing in the morning around 6 am, but eventually parking got so bad at work I had to leave earlier to get a spot. That took care of the early morning workouts, although that still is my favorite time. Get it over before you're awake enough to decide not to do it.

Dinah, if you ever decide to try the rock climbing class let me know. We've got a nice climbing gym in town and it just happens to be near my favorite coffee shop.

Dinah said...

I can't: you've already made a point of saying "do NOT go out for coffee afterward"

ClinkShrink said...

I figured it was a safe offer to make since you already said you weren't sure about the rock climbing. I thought I'd up the ante.

Alfie is a cute pudgy pup. I'm sure he'd be considered one of the 'fit fat'. I had a rock climbing friend who used to take his German Shepherd pup with him on his climbs, in a backpack. I bet Alfie would climb with me.

NeoNurseChic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dreaming again said...

I love exercise.

I didn't for several years, Myasthenia Gravis & Lupus got in my way. Treatments improved my health standing, and physical therapy, and slow hard work has brought me back to being able to work out again. A little. With supervision. In front of a physical therapist who won't let me do what I want to do.

I am getting better about not working out and into a flare.

I tell my friends who say they don't like to work out and don't like exercise ...they would find they like it well enough if they found themselves not able to do it.

While I was an athlete as a teen and have always had fun with exercise ... I am ever so grateful for every move my muscles make, ever pound I lift!

ClinkShrink said...

I would vote for you Foo, but only if you promised to provide chocolate at every political rally. Perhaps you could get Dinah to run with you.

Nah, she hates exercise.

DrivingMissMolly said...

Ah, Foofy-foo, you crack me up, although, I have to say that because of your chosen screen name, I imagine you wearing a huge clock around your neck.

(This is a reference to Flavor Flav on the horrible "show" "Flavor of Love" just in case you are hopelessly unhip)


The Locum said...

Used to be (i.e. until quite recently) the only exercise I did was lifting a gin and tonic, but my friend bought a bike recently and talked me into cycling again and it's been such fun that I think I actually do believe in endorphins.