Runner at Large

My whole life, I have viewed runners with a sense of awe. Now I am one of those, and I am extremely proud to be considered a runner.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Definition of Obsessed...

Merriam-Webster defines obsessed as "to haunt or excessively preoccupy the mind". Most times, the word obsessed is used in basic conversation as a judgmental term..."he's obsessed with her", "you're obsessed with cleaning", or "she's obsessed with chocolate". Some times the phrases are accurate, other times it's a gross overstatement.

Today I realized something--the terminology relates to my idea of running or my basic fitness.

My running streak for 2008 is still on track. This morning, however, during my morning run, my toe caught the edge of the sidewalk in town. And down I went. I was coming down from a hill, so my speed was high and my concentration, as it is most of the time around the end of a longer run, was off imagining my life as an astronaut or some other imaginative make-believe story I tend to think up on runs. I fell, and I slid, and two thoughts immediately entered my mind:

1) Pause the stop watch so I don't get an inaccurate time, and
2) Good thing I decided to change into shorts, or I would have ripped my favorite running pants!

Never mind the layers of skin now on the sidewalk. Never mind the blood I now have running down my leg and saturating my sock. Never mind the fact that the Lehigh Valley Half is days away. I was concerned about my time and thinking about my pants.

I hobbled home, bathed in hydrogen peroxide, found bandages big enough to cover my now very sore knees and hand, and gathered my bags for work. Ted stopped me at the door:

Ted: Is that your gym bag?
Maggie: Yeah...
T: Are you crazy?
M: No...but...
T: Maggie--you can't walk and your hand is bandaged up.
M: But...

Bottom line is that Ted won the argument, and my gym bag stayed at the house. On my way to work, I found myself growing concerned about my lack of gym time this week.

That's when I stopped myself. Am I becoming obsessed? Am I letting what originally was to be a healthy hobby turn into a hobby actually doing more harm that good? The idea of taking a few days off to rest was absurd to me. The idea that by running on sore knees or going to the gym leading up to a half marathon didn't mean potential injury to me--it was just something I was to do.

I decided, briefly, that I may be obsessed, although I'm not sure why. It's not that I have to win. It's not that I have a stellar physique that needs constant maintenance. It's not that I don't allow myself the occasional treat and overindulge in ice cream or a good margarita. But that didn't necessarily sit right, either. I know plenty of people who run more than me, or spend more time in the gym than I do, or eat more salads and vegetables and less processed food than myself. My true obsession is not in how far I run, or how fast, or how often I go to the gym, or how many crunches I can do. Rather, my obsession lies in the routine of my day. I go to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. By not going to the gym today, I have upset my routine and set things off schedule. I won't be at the gym three days this week--I'll only be there two days. This bothers me more than not getting a work-out in, and therefore doesn't make me obsessed with fitness.

Instead, my next blog should probably discuss the definition of OCD...


At 9:51 AM, Blogger Reba said...

First of all.... I'm so sorry about your fall! I hope you are okay and that you'll still be running Lehigh (but only if it makes sense... and perhaps someone else should be the judge of that for you, based on this blog entry.) I took a nasty spill a few weeks back that left me with such severe bruising that a paramedic friend of mine told me it looked like an auto accident injury. Nice, huh? Well, I'm healing nicely (thank goodness), but I'll tell you, my first thought was NOT to stop my watch!! I'm thinking you are a bit obsessed! Let me know whether you're still going to run Lehigh... and, if so, we'll figure out where to meet up. Probably best to email me directly at


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