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Monday, February 15, 2016

Future Perfect

I’ve become somewhat of a snob, grammatically.

It stems from my time teaching SAT preparation courses. Little things like “then” versus “than” and misuse of homophones can push me over the edge. Let’s not even get into the incorrect usage of apostrophes.

It’s = it is.They’re = they are. Every time. Not possessive. Sigh.

Knowing my quickness to judge others in this respect, I try to hold myself to the same standard. I feel downright humiliated when I find a typo in a blog post, and I’ve deleted whole Facebook threads when I discovered an early misspelling. In conversation, I’ve been known to swear audibly upon realization that I said “further” when I meant “farther.”

The one place this has not really extended, however, has been verb tenses. Sure, I try to use the correct tense most of the time, but outside of the big three (past, present and future), I don’t know any of their names or any of their specific definitions. I know what “sounds right,” and I tend to go with that.

Such looseness with the rules has led me to statements like the one that got me out the door yesterday morning:

I don’t want to run, but when I’m done, I will have wanted to.

If the preposition at the end of that sentence wasn’t enough to hurt my brain, the general construction does the job. Still, it’s the most accurate representation I can determine for how I feel while running. I don’t always love running, but I always love finishing a run.

Many people have challenged me over the years, telling me that it’s impossible to like running. In general, I disagree with the sentiment, but I can understand its origin. If someone has never run before, it takes a while for the body to acclimate. Muscles will be sore and minds will be tired, and that state can last a very long time. Eventually, you begin to see changes, whether physical or just based on your performance. Consistent behavior leads to definitive progress. Yes, the reward can be long time coming, but I believe the time it takes only increases its value.

Years removed from this personal revelation, it can be very difficult for me to remember what that accomplishment feels like. My goal of fifty marathons is a large, distant abstract at this point. I need to make incremental progress to have any chance of achieving that goal, but the increments don’t necessarily provide enough satisfaction to drive me on. Short version: some days I don’t want to run.

Particularly on long run days, it is very easy to forget the distant goal and think only of the instant reward. Yesterday, it was the thought of how nice it would be to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and spend the whole morning in pajamas.

Yet I knew deep down, and my wife reminded me, that curling up was not really what I wanted, and out the door I went. As I neared the end of my two hour run, I broke into a huge, stupid smile. This feeling was what I really wanted. I needed the miles, the sweat, the pain of building something stronger. It’s hard to reconcile when I’m comfortable on the couch and (as was the case this morning) hard to remember when I’m staring at an alarm I barely remember turning off. But it’s what I really want.

Or will have wanted after.

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