Recently, when Grandma (not my own, my husband's) was in the hospital, one of the things that was most painful to see was how she was struggling for breath. Even as we talked intelligently with the doctor about ventilators and breathing support and so on, back of the mind was that odd feeling. Breathing? Such a basic thing that is, how is one to go on when its difficult to do so? In a short month, with things slowly deteriorating, Grandma went away from us. Of course, to a better place.
Under the water, meanwhile, the thing foremost on my mind is breathing. Will I run out? Should I get out right now and gasp it in? If I go swim regularly for a few days, jump in and do what I do, pretty much thrashing about, I managed to fight the fear. And control myself, and just come up when my routine demands it (every three strokes). But its easy to lose that control. And I am clear something is messed up because I am still struggling overall, not as comfortable with the whole thing as I should/could be.
In the air, what is the big deal really? In-Out-In-Out : Its that simple, innit? I know this part. And am yet several years away from having to struggle for it.. But still, I have been watching my breath (you know what I mean) a lot lately. Its not so simple. I am doing a new exercise routine (couple of new ones, actually). The e-coach there insists on a certain pattern of breathing. I get it wrong, as in, instinctively, I inhale when he expects exhalation, and vice versa. I feel it going wrong the second I speed up. Of course, because of trying all these years to be a bare-bones runner, I don't really know my pace, or my heart rate, when I run. I just sort of estimate that my feet are moving faster than usual, or not. Except that its more 'or not' of late, because my breathing, which has to get into a rhythm if I have to continue on, doesn't.
"I have gained a few kilos" someone running alongside me said a few days ago, explaining his slowing down (or perception thereof). Well, I have not (nor lost any). I think I have been doing everything I usually do. Meaning, I don't diet or anything. I eat whatever I feel like, and is available. I do eat several meals a day - this I cannot help because of my crazy ass metabolism and my life long inability to eat large amounts of anything in one sitting. I am regular in my exercise, as recommended. Oh hell. I am VERY regular. Other parameters are good. Heart, Lipids (broadly), Sugar, Hemoglobin - yeah its all good. Of course I can train better - more scientifically, more systematically. But the motivation for that is not happening, so, I am not. I have the choice, thankfully. I am not racing anyone but myself, obviously.
So, what gives? My theory is that its old age. Murakami surely says that he has been slowing down as he grows older. & I? Am doing the same. The paces that felt casual last year, well, they have me gasping. And I don't gasp along for long enough for anything to happen, really. I do push myself, but not really that much. I just ease off. I am not in this for the short haul. I am definitely in this for the long haul. Long distance running. And life.
This past weekend I cut up all the old timing chips from all my shoes... They are all from half marathons. The innumerable ones I have run in the past several years. Its time to move on... Not harder/faster, but surely longer... at least that lets me breathe easy...