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Therapeutic

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Not all is solved.

Not all is better.

The big guy upstairs is still on my shitlist.

The same problems that were there before are still there.

But MAN does a nice, hard 8 mile run go a long way toward making one feel better.

I had planned on a short 4-miler, in part because I just haven’t been running lately, I mean AT ALL.  But once my legs got moving, I just wanted to keep going.  They (my legs) knew I needed it.  After taking it relatively easy for 4 miles, I slowly picked up the pace.  It was hard keeping myself in check. The anger, the aggression, it all needed to be let out, but with so little mileage lately, I didn’t want to injure myself, particularly with New York just two weeks away.  After running mostly in the mid-8’s, I just let it all out – starting from about 4 1/2 miles to the end of mile 7 I ran sub-7’s.  I grunted, I yelled – I could feel the tension flow out of me.

As I cooled down for the 8th mile, I laughed, realizing just how much I’ve missed running, how much I need it.

By the end, I was spent.  That’s what a lack of running will do to you.

I need to get back to doing this regularly – it’s my therapy.

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Control

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You can’t treat it with surgery.

Or chemo.

Or a shot of penicillin.

Or Bubbie’s chicken noodle soup.

Or a week in bed.

It’s not always visible…until the inevitable meltdown.

There is no “cure”.   There are therapies and strategies to help make the world more navigable, but Brooke will always “have” autism.  Maybe someday she will test out of the diagnosis (one can dream), but she will still have the underlying architecture of a girl with autism.  Regardless, we fight to make sure she gets the support she needs so that one day, diagnosis or not, she will be a productive, happy member of the community, of society.

As a parent, as much as I (we) fight for her, there is a sense of a lack of control.  There is no easy “target”.  I can’t give her a Tums or an Advil or schedule a procedure that will take this all away from my beautiful little girl.  It’s like fighting the war on terror – you don’t know where your enemy is hiding; you don’t know when he will decide to attack; and often by the time you have marshaled your forces, he’s slipped away back into hiding.

It doesn’t help when Medicine and Education point to each other as the place you should go when they should be working hand-in-hand.

I’ve seen a lot of moms with PTSD – my own wife included.

Yes, control goes out the window.

***

One of the ways I have learned to take back some of that sense of control is through running.

Does my running help Brooke?  Well, yes and no.

My running does not benefit Brooke directly, but it is my way of taking control of something in my life – particularly when things feel out of control.  Running relieves the stress and tension, helps improve my health, and allows me to be more focused afterward.  In turn, that allows me to be more present for Brooke, and though there are no guarantees, hopefully means I will be around on this planet for a long, long time to watch over her.

I have said it before and I will say it again, running has helped save me from the abyss.  It’s restorative powers are undeniable.

***

What do you do when things seem to be spinning out of control?

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Hey! What are you doing?!?

Silly, what are you doing?

***

Can you read the difference?

My older daughter, Katie, has been struggling for some time now with many of the quirks that come with Brooke’s autism.

Brooke likes to script things, and though we work very hard to move her away from them, we know that they are a comfort for her when she is either anxious or going through an unstructured period (i.e. school breaks).

Katie will very often play along with the scripts…that is, she will play along until she won’t play along. And when she is done, she is DONE!

And that’s when it happens.

Brooke tries to start a script with Katie, Katie snaps and all Hell breaks loose.

I’ve been trying to arm Katie with a few deflective tools that can help her – one of which is simply changing the tone in her voice while still getting the message across that she doesn’t want to play anymore.

Same message, just slightly reframed.

***

A friend of mine on twitter recently asked if she could “just run away?”

I answered that it depended on whether she was fast enough to outrun whatever it was she wanted to run away from.

***

Some people do run to “get away” from their problems.

I can understand that. I am sure I have been guilty of doing it on several occasions. But I like to think that running as therapy actually takes a different approach.

Much like I am trying to teach Katie that stopping and then reframing can make a huge difference, I believe running can do the same thing.

If there is something troubling you or you have a problem that you just can’t seem to wrap your brain around, there is a good chance that a nice long run can help you find the solution.  Notice that I didn’t say that running is the solution or that running will give you the solution.  Rather, I think that running gives you the uninterrupted time for your brain to roll over a problem in a less stressful environment.

Sure you’re breathing hard.

Sure you’re sweating a ton.

Sure you’re possibly focused solely on how much your quads and calves hurt.

But while all of that is happening, you’re brain is working, and possibly, quite possibly, you come home with a slightly different view of your problem.  It might not even be a different perspective, just simply a change in tone or vocabulary.

Same problem, same solution – simply reframed.

***

Try it.  90 – 120 minutes of heavy sweating – running, biking, swimming…or however you get your sweat on.

And in the end, even if you don’t find the find your way to the solution of your problem, at least you will have got in a great workout!

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Why do you run?

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Kool-Aid

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Running, and by extension physical activity, is a gift.

As with all great gifts, it is one worth sharing.

Often people don’t want it. They look at those of us who are regularly active and think that it is easy for us to run, that it is easy for us to exercise. To a degree, that is true. Those of us who call ourselves runners (or swimmers or cyclists) wake up with the urge to run, or swim or bike – maybe not as soon as we get up (I’m still trying out this pre-dawn thing), but eventually, at some point during the day, we are driven to get physical.

It’s not like that for everyone, particularly for those that haven’t imbibed in our endorphin-laced kool-aid. Our non-running friends don’t know that there was a time when the desire and drive simply weren’t there for us, but we forced ourselves to push on. Once through that wall, once through that two to three to ten weeks of faithfully getting it done, it all changed. For some of us it was a gradual awakening, for others it was a moment of enlightenment.

If it sounds mildly religious, don’t be surprised. There is definitely a cult-like mentality to dedicated runners, and the endorphin-high one gets from running is very similar to that of a religious experience or an encounter with a huge amount of chocolate. Some might call it an addiction, others might call it a religion. I like to think of it as therapy. But any way you slice it, for the greater majority of us, it is peace. Running is the place where the stresses of the day, month, year, can melt away for a brief moment in time. It is a place where we can work out the strategies of how to deal with our daily issues. Much like a drug, religion or therapy, running can ease the pain in our lives and help keep our personal demons at bay.

Just like drugs, religion or therapy however, running is not for everyone. As a running acolyte, that is something that is hard for me to remember. Just like there is room in this world for religious believers and non-believers, there too, is room for runners and non-runners alike.

Still, like many religious zealots, I have difficulty understanding how one could not enjoy the benefits running. I wish I could bottle up the kool-aid and give it out for the Holidays, just so people could have a taste of that joy that running (or any exercise that produces a lot of sweat) can bring.

I do believe that unlike religion and drug addiction, running doesn’t do harm to others in its name. It’s not like runners are about to start a runner’s war, right?

People will come to it when they’re ready I suppose. I didn’t start running regularly until I was almost 40. I wish I had done it when I was 30 or 20 for that matter, but honestly, I just wasn’t ready.

Who wants Kool-Aid?

Have you always been a runner (or whatever your sport of choice is) or did it come to you later in life?

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Why do you run?

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