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My Butterfly Effect - Small Changes in Running

Training Log For: 01/18/10

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Posted by Yvonne

"Small things we do add up to make us who we are as runners."

By John Bingham

For 14 years, John Bingham wrote a column for Runner's World. Which is pretty much The Well that all runner's rely on to fill themselves up with motivation, inspiration, technical information, dietary facts, and more. A few weeks ago John wrote his last RW column on The Butterfly Effect (TBE).

As few people know I was a math major before I ever got involved in art and design. In fact, it was my need to get away from math and it's confines of certainty that lead me to art and the world of subjectivity. It was a good balance for me. But back to The Butterfly Effect. It is rooted in the Chaos Theory and John begins his column by defining it simply as, "small variations of the initial condition of a dynamic system may produce large variations in the long-term behavior of the system. It suggests that a butterfly flapping its wings in Hong Kong can eventually affect the weather in Kansas."

Intrigued, I continued to read how John would relate the Chaos Theory and Butterfly Effect to his running. Like a few others that take up running, John was over weight and a smoker. He wanted a better lifestyle and running offered him that. His small steps in creating a healthier life lead to him completing 45 marathons to date! What an amazing and unexpected long-term effect.

This lead to me evaluate my decision to run, where it stemmed from and where it has taken me. I started running for many reasons. Like many it started as a way to lose weight. It's convenient, something that anyone can do with little to no money or gym membership. It also continued to help be stay positive in my life. The Runner's High is a reality and it made me feel great. Like I could do anything.

But despite all the normal reasons people run, I found I had a few more. When I moved to Los Angeles to go to art school, I quickly developed a bit of depression as well. I knew no one here and had no job. After some convincing, I got a therapist and upon further convincing and teeth pulling got a psychiatrist as well. For nearly 3 years I tried drug after drug only to be told that once I found the right one, who knows how long I will have to be on it. The problem with these drugs (outside of the fact that they Are in fact, drugs) is that they take time to work and then once you decide you don't want to be on them anymore they take time to ween off of as well. And none of these processes were fun. I remember many-a-nights where I woke up in sweat-drenched sheets, somehow frozen and burning up at the same time. I remember driving from point A to point B, only to realize that I had no recollection of the actual journey there. I remember mind-numbing pain from strange jolts of electricity that seemed to render me motionless for moments. There were so many side effects, I could write a book on it. Alas, this is not a book but a blog, and you nor I want to go through that painful list.

The point is that after 3 years of mindlessly taking any drug (prescription or not) given to me to help with my depression, I finally rid myself of them. And as I have always remained a runner throughout my life and depression, I threw myself even more into it at this point. But unfortunately as I was weening myself off the drugs I was also layed-off my first "real" job as a graphic designer at a boutique agency in Hollywood. I had been with them for nearly 3 years and I was devastated. They were like family to me and I knew they were going through a hard time with lay offs too. They were kind enough to keep me on part-time as long as they could, and threw me work as often as they could. But this only lasted a few weeks and by that time I was completely off my medication and found myself sleeping a lot. Waking up and sitting in front of Regis and Kelly on the brink of depression again. But that was natural right? I mean I was going through major changes in my life. And though I did look for jobs every day for hours, I still had A LOT of time on my hands. Time to think. Think about what a failure I was. Think about how I was going to survive. Think...Think...Think...

Finally I decided that I needed to get outside again. I had time. I was in the premiere beach town of Santa Monica in Southern California. So I started going on these epic walks exploring this neighborhood that I never knew existed. I would be gone for hours, sometimes 4 or 5. Slowly, this got old, so I started running them. Then I realized how much I was running and thought about running the marathon I had entered my final year in college only to break a leg in the final weeks of training for it. Now, was the perfect time to recapture that dream. So, I quickly started training on a regular schedule. That was my job. It gave me a goal. Helped me curb my bad habit that unemployment and depression had allowed me to fall into. Running this marathon gave me everything I needed to get through 2009. And finally when race day came, I stood at the start line in realization that I had the most important people with me (my two my mom, stepdad Howard and best friends Amber and Cameron) and I had gotten a new job a few weeks earlier.

Now, all was left was to run 26.2 miles.,7120,s6-243-332--13377-0,00.html