Lately when I’ve been driving around Flagstaff, I conjure up my most subtle southern drawl to impersonate my good friend Tim, and I babble on and on about “self-care.” What exactly is self-care? I do not know. However, when I’m zoning in my Volvo, I shout about self-care being a “pre-run, cold-coffee enema,” or “waking up at 5 a.m. to pound out my morning 10-miler around the Lower East Side” and “strictly eating pie and drinking fine bourbon cocktails on Saturdays.”
Is this true self-care? Is funneling your bowels with caffeine and then slamming pavement for 70-minutes a healthy alternative to a more conventional self-care routine?
No. It is not.
Idyllic self-care rests its laurels upon the importance of relaxation, baths, Sarah McLachlan, throwing your iPhone into a nearby abyss and magazines. It’s pure and mindless. It does not hurt and it is beautiful. Do not be fooled, though! This is an ignorant form of self-care and comes from subscribing to some sort of apocryphal “Dummie’s Guide to Self-Care.”
This is not the self-care you want; this is not the self-care you need. The self-care you need is called self-initiated self-care.
My aforementioned buddy Timmy enlightened me to this type of self-care. He sent me an iMessage tale about how “rewarding yourself is important” and the “need to be self-soothing”, and to remember “not to be too hard on yourself. That’s kind of reverse self-care.” REVERSE SELF-CARE. You came into this article without an elementary understanding of self-care and now I just taught you about reverse self-care. This is all so important. I also asked Timmy if I could use his quotes in this likely lightly-circulated article, he came back with “Bro. I’m ALWAYS on the record.”
I imagine one day this will come back to bite Timmy, but who can think about the future when you’re up to your ears in a post-8-mile-tempo-chorizo egg-sandwich and have an epsom-salt-foot-bath waiting for you at the office.
Self-care for runners is different than self-care for a normal, non-self-loathing person. A runner might find their chakra while 90-minutes into a three-hour run, or discover their third-eye as they risk imploding their spleen to kick down a teammate on the homestretch and maybe, just maybe, in a brief moment of true enlightenment they find themselves babbling an ancient tongue in the midst of ranting about severe thigh chafing to a close friend.
These are not beautiful moments, but they are the moments a runner craves to experience. A brand of self-care deeply rooted in masochism and yet gives way to the pastoral mental landscape we yearn to paint ourselves.
I made something for you. It is a visual description of the confluence of self-care and running. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey to find true self-care and please remember to be self-soothing.