This week’s entry is dedicated to happy distractions – and also to my friend Alissa, who came up with the title.
Tomorrow is Kentucky Derby Day! Officially, in the universe of horse racing, it’s the first race of the Triple Crown. I believe it’s also known as “The First Race that the Non-Horse-Racing General Public Bothers to Pay Attention To.”
I fully admit to my Non-Horse-Racing status. However, to folks who don’t know much about the sport, Derby Day is only peripherally, really, about the actual horse races.
It’s about the hats, people. Let’s be honest here.
I don’t recall when exactly I became so interested in tuning in on the morning of Derby Day to participate in what basically amounts to televised people-watching, but somehow it sucked me in. Mainly, yes, because of the ladies with fabulously ridiculous and ridiculously fabulous hats, but the whole crowd just looks like they’re having the most marvelous time in the world as they drift about in their dapper “Saturday at the races” attire. And their most important accessory, whether man or woman? That sterling cup of mint julep, naturally. And coming right on the heels of the Royal Wedding this year just makes it even BETTER.
I realized the magnitude of my Derby crush when I found myself somewhat torn between the idea of running a race on Saturday morning, and sitting in my living room wearing a sundress and a big floppy fuchsia hat. My accessory in the latter scenario would only be a glass of wine – I’ve resigned myself to not quite having hard-core-Southern-enough blood to withstand bourbon before 11 a.m.
The goofiness of my indecision made me laugh, but also got me thinking, and I realized that not all distractions from running are malevolent.
Think of all the excuses people come up with for not running, or for not exercising at all: Too busy. Too stressed out. Not fit enough. Too tired. Injured. Sick. No one to do it with.
But there are plenty of reasons that people don’t run, or don’t run quite as much as they used to, that you can’t really call “excuses.” They’re just…reasons. Things like: An exciting new job. Planning a move to a better place. Dating someone new. Spending more quality time with friends. Planning a wedding. Pregnancy. None of these are bad things, right? So why do we sometimes feel guilty over the subsequent little neglect of running?
I say it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too (or have your mint julep and drink it too). If you stop thinking of running, or exercise in general, as an obligation, or a chore, and think of it instead as something more elastic and long-term, it helps. Think of it as one of your best friends – someone to enjoy spending time with; someone who has known you and been there for years. It doesn’t matter how often you do or don’t see them.
You know running, like a true friend, will always be there, whether it’s for a 6-mile run or a 20-mile run or a 2-mile run, or [gasp] a day off. Running, like a friend, knows the strength of the relationship at all times. The trick is finding that knowledge in ourselves.
So I say, throw a Kentucky Derby party. Go on a date. Take a dog on a hike. Take a nap in the backyard before it gets too hot. Indulge in the happy distractions that don’t come around very often.
Those running shoes know you’ll be back.