Running therapy 101: Training your brain to spot the open door

The topic for last week’s running therapy sessions – and many more to come, I’m sure – was set on Sept. 11, when my husband lost his job and his car on the exact same day.

Neither event in itself was terribly shocking, as both the car and the newspaper were clunkers far past their prime. His Taurus is headed for the scrapyard, and The News-Sentinel is jettisoning its print edition along with nearly half of its skeleton crew.

Good thing my sister and I recently upped our mileage to include a weekly 10-miler.

The ensuing chaos waves that ripple out from a major life disruption are every bit as predictable as the smaller kind, as it turns out. So I really wasn’t even surprised to discover, driving to Saturday’s running rendezvous spot, that not only had my purse rode off to Fort Wayne in the car  I usually drive, but the gas tank on the vehicle I was appropriating from our son was on empty.

“There was a time when I would’ve just been fuming about how everything always seems to go wrong at once,” I told Traci as we headed out on the first of 15 laps around the 4-H Park.

Instead, I was grateful to have grabbed three bucks for making copies at the library afterward. While I’d have to skip the library now, it seemed incredibly lucky that I just happened to have exactly enough money to buy a gallon of gas.

Given how much air time we had to fill during that 2-hour run, I rambled on about how I’d spent most of the summer trying to train my brain to focus only on the good parts of any given day. I’d been wondering if my “positivity vision” was getting any better as a result of all this training, and one day last month I realized it had.

The evidence came when I literally tried to open a door that was unexpectedly and inconveniently closed – and found myself reacting not with frustration but curiosity, wondering which “door would open” now that my chosen path was unavailable.

It should be noted this was a disappointment of the most minor variety: I really wanted a Diet Mountain Dew to clear my foggy brain before a meeting, but the Dollar General where I’d planned to procure one was unexpectedly closed due to a cash register problem. Diet sodas being as ubiquitous as air, I felt fairly certain I’d be able to find another source even in a downtown as decrepit as Bluffton’s. And I did, and had an extremely pleasant walk I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and still made it to my meeting with a minute or two to spare.

“It’s not like that was a life-changing experience, but it felt like progress to someone who’s always had a tendency to imagine the worst-case scenario in any given situation,” I told my sister – who was no doubt looking on the bright side herself, realizing that while she was cursed with listening to me yak, at least she wasn’t the one using up all her oxygen.

In a way, this feels like being a kid who finally learns how to shoot a layup, only to discover your next game is against the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s one thing when the closed door bars access to a cold drink; it’s a whole lot scarier when the thing that’s taken away is your family’s primary paycheck.

But humans have been yakking about the fortuitous opening of that mysterious “other door” for centuries. I feel fairly confident we’ll find it eventually –  just like Traci and I found some upsides in figuring out how to adapt our running to my ongoing struggle with plantar fasciitis.

I’m taking comfort in this small omen as well: Even though I had to skip my postrun library stop, I discovered on a taxi mom errand a few hours later that the library now stays open til 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

So I got to go after all – and it was a much more productive visit, because this time I actually had my library card with me.


P.S. Yeah, I’ve noticed the photo problem on this page. I’ll get around to dealing with it one of these days.


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1 Response to Running therapy 101: Training your brain to spot the open door

  1. bgddyjim says:

    I find that the big things are easier to deal with than a bunch of little things. TWO big things, though, that is rare.

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