Endorphins, come to papa

Oh, sweet endorphins, how I’ve missed you. It’s been too damn long.

I got a major endorphin run and hours of mellow afterglow following my run this morning. It’s been so long I almost forgot what it felt like. That’s what happens when you are (a) injured and (b) lazy and (c) get out of the habit of pushing hard.

But push hard is what I did this morning. I ran the Pines Loop six times. It’s about a half-mile around, with a few gentle hills, in  a shady neighborhood near my house.

I ran each loop a little faster than the one before, with no breaks in between. I didn’t set out to do it, but that’s how it worked out. So I’m pretty jazzed.

I was worried that my leg would start to scream, but it never did, and now, four hours later, it still feels fine.

Here are my times: 3:45, 3:38, 3:29, 3:23, 3:19, 3:09.

And about those endorphins. Yes sir, they’re provide a nice, mellow buzz for hours. That makes me a lot easier to be around.

Just ask Mrs. Trail Boy. She hates it when I get cranky.

“Would you just go run??!” she says when I’m stressed out and being a jerk about something.

She likes endorphins too. She hikes and bikes and stays very active. But she doesn’t like to run, and it took her a long time to figure out my addiction to marathons.

A few years ago, when I was constantly running out to train for one race or another, she would say: “Are you really going out again? Can’t you spend one Saturday morning at home?”

And when I would return back three or four hours later, I’d get that look.

Lots of spouses don’t get it, and if you don’t adjust or talk it over, it can be rough on a marriage.

Don’t believe me? Ask Steve Paske. He’s a runner in Milwaukee who wrote an essay about this subject a couple years ago in my favorite running magazine, Marathon & Beyond. I just happened to pick up that edition (May/June 2010) last night and stumble onto his story.

Here’s the long and short of it. For years, Paske tried for years to break three hours in the marathon, a very competitive goal but one that was nearly in his grasp.

The story starts in 2004. Steve had just finished the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in a heartbreaking 3:00:12, winning him the distinction of the first finisher over three hours. He was crushed to come to so close and miss it.

For the next few years, Steve suffered one setback after another: injuries, a move to Bolivia, a divorce. For months at a time, he had to give up running. He got depressed and out of sorts.

But he dug deep and eventually he, well — I don’t want to give away the ending.

But the point is, that when he was injured and unable to train, his wife offered him this sweet observation: “I hated when you used to go off and spend all that time running, training for marathons. But not that you’re not running, I hate that even more.”

What a sweetheart! You can see why they split up a few months later.

Well, Mrs. Trail Boy knows better. Even though she used to get kind of annoyed with my training, she eventually got used to it. Then, after a while, she pretty much expected me to go running, and started teasing me if I slept in or took too many days off.

“It’s Saturday morning. Why are you still in bed at 6:30?” she would say.

Now she misses my endorphins more than I do. She can’t wait until I’m back in full swing, training for another big goal.

So this morning, after I got back from the Pine Loops, she took one look at my sweaty shirt and rumpled hair and said: “Nice job!”

Take a lesson, running spouses. Give your sweetie a long leash to go running. He or she really needs the endorphins and the wind in the hair.

And it’s really better for both of you.


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