Tired Legs, Calm Heart

I just spent a few days in Pennsylvania visiting the fam. It was a brief, but necessary trip and I came back with a new microwave (thanks Mom and Grandma!) and a set of casserole dishes (thanks Nana!) among other things. I enjoyed taking a break from the city and seeing my family, but I always feel a little conflicted when I visit home. It’s tempting to fall into old childhood patterns (mom still offers to do my laundry. and make me a sandwich…), but it’s clear that I’m not a kid anymore. As I navigated us through rush hour traffic over the Manhattan Bridge this afternoon, I realized that sometimes it’s my turn to take charge, that my parents aren’t always going to be there to take care of me. And that’s a little scary. I was already feeling unsettled about my little hiatus from work and city life…and then this guy started buzzing…

My job isn’t overly demanding, but I do have a BlackBerry and I am expected to check it when I’m out of the office. Today was a particularly busy day apparently and after only an hour of not looking at the thing, I had eleven “urgent” emails. As I read over and responded to them, I felt myself getting more and more frustrated. There were issues and problems I couldn’t resolve right away and I started feeling guilty for taking a few days off. “I should be there to take care of this! I should have double-checked things before I left!” And then I got even upset….I only had a few more minutes left with my mom (she had to drive back to PA) and I was spending that time answering work emails – on a day that was supposed to be a “vacation day”.

There were some tears. I may have wanted to throw my BlackBerry out the window. I can be a little melodramatic sometimes.

So, what did I do? Some folks turn to booze or sweets or drugs (I’m actually quite a fan of the first two..), but usually a run by myself can do wonders. My thoughts tend to turn over and over in my head and sometimes the only thing that helps me move forward is well, physically moving forward. I ran through hectic, crowded Chinatown. I ran over the tourist-clogged Brooklyn Bridge. I entered the borough that I now call home.

I ran through the busy traffic of downtown Brooklyn, through the trees and fields of Prospect Park, and finally down Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights.

An hour and 20 minutes (9 miles?) later, I found myself in front of my favorite ice cream shop. I ordered a scoop of vanilla malted on a sugar cone and slowly walked back to my apartment. Tomorrow’s to-do list is going to be a mile long, I probably won’t get everything done. But at least for a moment this evening, my legs were tired and my head was quiet. Sometimes I run to be social, sometimes I do it to race fast, but other times I run to empty out my head. When I finish a long run or a tough workout, there’s no energy left to worry, I’ve sweat out the anxiety, and left behind the negative thoughts. Running isn’t the only solution of course – minds and hearts can be quieted in a multitude of ways…but for tonight, the answer was tired legs.

And an ice cream cone.

Have a good night, friends.

  • It is amazing what a solo run can do for the mind and body. I think this is one of the reasons I want to run at least half my long run by myself this week. 

  • Sounds like the perfect pick-me-up/stress reliever. Running has definitely kept me sane in medical school. Well, an ice cream, too. Sending good vibes for a smooth day tomorrow!

  • I truly loved the line “my legs were tired and my head was quiet.” I know that feeling, too. Nicely written.

  • Julie @julierunsnyc

    Beautiful post. I can totally relate with the need to get out the door and pound the pavement just to relieve some of life’s frustrations! and restore a sense of mental balance and calm. Sometimes your body just needs to get rid of all that extra energy. Know what else works wonders? Kickboxing class!

  • I love how a run will make things better. I think running is one of the best stress relievers out there…and ice cream too 🙂 Glad you felt better!

  • running has been my therapy too many times to count. Just one of the 948135 reasons I love it. Hope you feel better now, friend – work stress is the worse, especially when you’re supposed to be having a vacation day. 

    Also, Happy Birthday! See you next week for a run, I hope!

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOOKER!!!!

    I thought this title was an homage to FNL (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5Z5BzNAh6Y) but I see now that it is not. No matter. I’m so sorry your job sucks and is overwhelming and bothers you on your birthday eve. And I’m glad you don’t have to turn to quaaludes to destress. That would get expensive. Even more expensive than designer ice cream.

  • love this post. glad your time at home was relaxing. work sucks, ice cream heals all. and sometimes running. word.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  • Ali

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! You should eat a million ice cream cones today. Do it. Try. I dare you.

  • Ah, gotta love therapy runs!! I totally hear you – after a nice, hard run there’s “no energy left to worry.” Love that.

    Enjoy your day! 

  • great post and i could not agree with you more!  have a great birthday – hopefully work isn’t too crazy!

  • Dad

    Happy birthday! Hope you have a great day with good friends,
    good food, good beer, and a good run! Great post btw.

  • ugh I felt compelled to check work emails when i was on vacation. it sucked. but yes running is a head clearer. happy birthday too 🙂

  • Happy Birthday!  I totally want an ice cream cone now 🙂

  • Happy Birthday!!

  • Totally feel you right now. Work and its expectations, especially in this city, can get seriously out of hand sometimes. I am actually planning my own mind-clearing, de-stressing, very necessary run tomorrow morning. 

    And I’m eating ice cream right now. These things work well in any order. 

    Happy birthday wishes to you, and I hope to see you soon!

  • Is it sad that this post made me teary eyed? I totally identified with it, running is my therapy <3 
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  • Oh my gosh I love this post!! This is one of the things I love most about running – and as much as I love running fast or running long, sometimes my absolute favorite runs are those when I’m running for no other purpose but to clear my head.

    I hope your run made you go into today feeling better, despite your long to-do list and all the stresses of work. And I hope you had a wonderful birthday! 🙂 Happy Birthday!!

  • Ah, yes. I absolutely know what you mean, down to the letter. How many times I wanted to throw by BlackBerry out the window in the bad old days… Running was pretty much the only thing that kept me sane as a lawyer. Same deal now that I’m a new mom. And I never say no to a stiff drink or a tasty ice cream, either!

  • M A

    happy birthday! Love your blog and the level-headed perspective and resulting joy you bring to your running and your life. I’m sidelined for who-knows-how-long with a likely re-torn tendon…so I am going to live vicariously through you.

  • Happy belated birthday!!

    This post is SO true…sometimes the runs where you can clear your mind are the best.  Ice cream doesn’t hurt either…

  • Happy birthday!

  • Corey @ runner’s cookie

    Happy (belated) birthday!!!
    <3 this post…running is so awesome for days like that. It doesn't necessarily fix the problem but it always clears my head and makes me feel more at peace or more able to tackle it.

  • ok, i’m just catching up and am therefore comment baraging you.  but i had to, because this is such a wonderfully articulated post.  and i totally get it.  seriously.  i hate that work had to go and mess with your birthday eve, but i’m glad that you a) have the coping mechanisms to deal (hello, adulthood) and b) have wonderful people in your life who then made up for it with weekend celebrations. happy belated, again! 🙂