Thursday, May 09, 2013

Nerd on the run

I run for various reasons. I like to be fit, running is great cardiovascular exercise, and my thoughts get to wander where they will as my feet pound mindlessly along. Also, running is a great reason to venture out in the cool early morning air during a Tucson summer, and man does it feel great to jump in the pool immediately upon my return home. I like that I can run and I do run, if that makes sense. I like the accomplished, relaxed feeling after a run. I've even come to enjoy running itself, so I look forward to heading out most mornings. Regular running helps my mind, my stress levels, my imagination, my appetite, my heart and lungs and various other body parts.

In some ways I'm an avid runner. I've run for over 15 years, and I run regularly, 3 to 5 times a week, even on vacations or when traveling. But when I go to running websites or talk to true running enthusiasts, I quickly realize I'm more dedicated and delighted by running than avid over it. I don't run particularly long distances and can't even imagine trying a marathon. My typical runs are between 3 to 5 miles, and I like it that way. I don't compete. Ever. I don't run in groups. I've never even run with one other person. I don't need a companion for incentive or inspiration or competition. I don't need to talk about running. I certainly don't need to talk while running. I just like to run as often, as far, and as fast as I feel like going.

So I'm a dedicated and delighted, non-competitive, long-time, regular runner. I'm also a nerd. I time every run, and I know how far I go and my average pace. I have a Garmin watch that communicates with satellites and uploads data to my computer, so I have charts that show how far I run weekly, monthly, etc... I even know how many miles I run each day of the week and which days tend to be my favorite and least favorite running days. I'm most definitely a nerd about this. I'm a running nerd.

It gets worse. When my pace changes, I try to understand why. For instance, recently and suddenly, I began running faster than I've been going for months. I feel like I should smile, say cool, and go about my business. But that's not what I do. I wonder if it's because I changed shoes or inserts, ran earlier than usual, stretched more before... Since my runs are always limited by how much air I can take in, I think about air quality. Is there less pollen? More humidity? Maybe it's the type of allergens in the air. Or the time of year. Maybe it's because I ran a few days in a higher altitude on a trip, and now that I'm back where there's more oxygen in the air, I can run faster here...

What a nerd, right? This is probably the result of my engineering side combining with my writer side. Engineers love data and reasons and understanding things. Writers are obsessive.

But for whatever reason, take warning, Tucson. There's a nerd on the run among you.