Friday, July 22, 2011
Jet Lag Medicine
I have been away from home a lot this month. I was in Montana for 10 days and I am spending a week in Italy right now. Being gone so long, especially with so many time zones in between for a person to get used to, can be hard. Personally, I try to get on the local clock immediately. When I land I commit to not going to sleep until it is dark wherever I am. I make myself not think about what time it is in Connecticut, because that only reminds my body of what time it thinks it is.
I also try to spend as much time outside as I can to let my eyes, brain, and body receive all the clues the sun and its angle give as to time of day.
Even with these measures, jet lag can still hit hard, leaving me tired, grouchy, and “off” a bit.
This is where I find running comes in handy. I have been a runner since 2002, when Erica and I decided we were going to run a marathon. We made the decision in the winter and by October we each actually made it 26.2 miles through the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY. Running that marathon was, for me, like going from zero to 120 MPH in 6 seconds flat. (Okay, maybe not 120. After all, it did take me four and a half hours to finish.)
I went from not running at all to running way, way too much. In fact, I almost killed my running habit in its infancy. I took a month off after that race and then started back again, slowly. A few years later I had to take another long break because of some herniated disks in my lower back. Now I am much smarter about my running. Mostly because I listen to my body much better than I used to.
I have settled nicely into a rhythm where I run three times a week—generally Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each of these runs is four miles. Then I run again on Sunday, anywhere from 6 to 14 miles. These long Sunday runs are the anchor for my week and they keep me feeling grounded and regular. They also keep me within striking distance of being able to run a half marathon whenever I find a good one that fits my goal of running one in every state. So far, I have run half marathons in 8 states and I am signed up for 2 more this year—Vermont and Delaware.
When I travel, often all of this regularity gets thrown out the window. But I make sure my running shoes get thrown in suitcase and as soon as I can, I put them on and try to keep to my pattern.
In Venice the past few days it was hard. In fact, I didn’t run there. The streets are narrow and full of people and I just didn’t make it happen. Now we are 18 miles from Venice in a town called Treviso and yesterday I finally made it out for a run. As soon as I did I could feel my body saying “YES! THIS is what we needed.” There is a familiarity to the process of getting dressed for a run, heading outside, picking a direction and then starting. Moving through the world that way is as natural and comforting a thing as I can do when I am far from home and way off schedule. It settles me right away. Running is medicine and meditation and magic and I love that I can do it anywhere.
Today my daughter and I are getting on a train to go back to Venice and see a few things we didn’t get to see earlier in the week. But tomorrow—tomorrow starts with a run.