>A four mile run along the golf course and boating docks after work tonight. It was cloudy, about 55 degrees or so, and hardly windy at all for this state – perfect running weather. Because it’s been over a week since I’ve run – something in me rebelled at much exercise last week – I was worried that it’d be a bit harder than normal. Instead, it was easier, and I actually ran faster than I normally do.

Today on facebook an acquaintance (because we’re not really friends, like so many people one is ‘friends’ with) made a comment soliciting advice about running and shin splints, as she’s a new runner. I had terrible, terrible shins splints in high school – I remember coming home from basketball games in tears, and Mom would slather icy hot on my shins, and we’d ice them for hours. I dealt with it all four years of sports. And then when I started running again back in 2007, I got them nearly immediately. At first I thought they were a result of the extra weight I was trying to lose, but since I felt awkward running as it was, I bought this book, which changed my life. I had a goal, a place to position my awkward arms and legs, and within two weeks, the shin splints were gone. It was an easy fix for the most part – I was simply landing on the wrong part of my foot, too heavy on the balls of my feet rather than centering on my entire foot. And don’t push off with your feet, but use your abs, your chi, to center yourself where you run from.

I literally ran with the book in front of me on the treadmill, mostly because it was too cold to run outside at that time. I offered this up to the girl who asked for advice, and she commented with a ‘I hate treadmills’. Yes, okay. Who really loves them? No one I’ve ever met. But when you’re first starting out, and you’ve got awkward beginners pains, and it’s 30 degrees in the still-Chicago winter, you might have to suck it up and use a treadmill. And then another person added on that oh-so-common bs about icing your legs with shin splints, which is what I read in every single health & fitness magazine as a fix from some Dr. so and so. Don’t these people realize it’s not a fix? It’s only a bandaid for the problem? I really believe that our bodies are created to run, that each and every one of us have the ability to (maybe not the desire) to run properly, without pain – although I may not have the fix personally, since I haven’t the problem, surely it’s out there.

I was thinking about all of this when I was running today. My it band got cranky, and then my ankle, and then my right hamstring, etc. Sure, I could ice them all when I got home. Or I could think about what I might be doing which was causing the pain, and fix the issues – all of which were posture related, usually my abs going weak on me, and me slouching in some way and putting unnecessary pressure on the certain problem area. Just like that, the pain is gone.

By mile 3, I was connecting this to writing, of course. What’s the equivalent of icing your shin splints in the writing world? Maybe working on sentence structure when you don’t know what it’s like to get inside a character’s head and how to relay that to a reader. No, that’s too complicated – that’s something that takes time to learn. But it took a lot of time for me to figure out how to land correctly on my feet – 3 years of running, and I only have to remind myself maybe once out every 3 miles or so, “loose legs”, so I don’t push off with my feet.

And then of course there’s the natural talent for something, too. I’ll never be a terrific runner – sure, I’ll eventually accomplish my goals, but the only chance I have at winning anything will maybe be a race when I’m super old, and the only one left alive in my age group. But if I can get the form down…that’s got to count for something. Maybe if I can get this writing form down – maybe that’s what matters now for me. I’m certainly learning that. But natural ability does count for something. Maybe it moves you down the path quicker. Natural ability, and hard work.

Dad sent us kids another book – one I was actually looking at a few weeks ago, in Barnes & Nobles, called Motherless Daughters. It repeats a lot of information that my other grief book has, but there’s also so much that affirms what I’m going through – and how the sudden realization that your mother isn’t there anymore can utterly and completely disable you in a way nothing else has before. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. Even last week, I was standing at the photocopier at work and was hit so hard by this agonizing wave of longing for Mom that I thought I might pass out – sounds so dramatic, but there’s really nothing else like it. And right now, I think about how much I’d like to hear her voice, to talk to her about what John and I have been up to, the breads I’ve been making, and how Kitty is nearly as attached to Buddy as Buddy is to Kitty.