Even if you run, or exercise, on your own, as I typically do, you have numerous opportunities to engage in breezy conversations one-on-one with people who want to talk about YOU.
Ok so they’re professional people and you pay them but still. For me, that would include my trainer, my running coach, my physical therapist, my nutritionist, my doc(s).
I don’t have any problem talking about myself for ridiculous blocks of time with just about anyone who’ll ask. And I’m also completely comfortable at this point with multiple people talking about me, sometimes when I’m in the room or when I’m copied on an email.
Yet the first time I saw an email from my physical therapist to my trainer I gasped when I read it.
“I’m not sure how I feel about the two of you talking about me,” I said to my trainer at our next session.
“We’re talking about you because we care about you,” he said.
Ok that’s interesting, I remember thinking.
By now they know how much I care about them, too.
At some point one of us will talk about the World Series or how the Terps are doing or our families. We’re still working and making progress on my back or my shoulder or my core but our conversations meander organically and are very, very easy. I suspect this is something physical therapists and personal trainers perfect in school or in trainings. Maybe it’ll be a class or workshop called something like “Putting Your Clients at Ease by Making Light Conversation 101.”
I was at a social event recently and met a long-time Washington, D.C., trainer. In our conversation she made a small side comment, something like,
“In order to be a good trainer you just need to be a good listener. Clients just want someone to talk to.”
As a client I was a little offended even though I don’t think she meant anything negative by the statement. We’re working with trainers who can push us, advise us, help us meet our fitness goals. But it’s true as in any other field, you get way more success when you can establish a connection with the person you’re working with. So maybe that’s what she was saying because it’s my impression she’s a great trainer.
In my morning sessions with Nancy, my trainer, there doesn’t need to be a beginning, middle, and an end to what we’re talking about, or even a big topic. We always start with me, how I’m feeling, how my runs are going, and then maybe we’ll get into something that’s happening in the news. Back in spring 2014 when I first started exercising and training, I wasn’t able to carry my end of a conversation and needed my trainer or physical therapist to distract me during a long wall sit or side plank or manual manipulation. At that time I did a lot more listening than talking and if we were conversing, my contributions would be simple.
This crossed my mind as I was in the audience last Friday night at the opening of “Winners and Losers” at Woolly Mammoth. The play – more of a performance than a traditional play – is basically a 90-minute conversation between two grown men. The characters touch on a number of topics as they sit at either ends of a long table and challenge each other with their words or at ping pong or wrestling. The play is as much about the content of the conversation as it is about how the two interact and you can dig into some of the subjects – particularly when the conversation becomes confrontational– but for me the (outstanding) performance was about the art of talking, conversing, engaging one-on-one.
It reminded me of "My Dinner with Andre" and how much I enjoyed watching that movie.
After the show I was thinking about how infrequently I carve out time for unfocused, relaxed conversations with people that are not about networking or obtaining information. As women we invite each other out in groups for Ladies’ Nights, birthday dinners, jewelry trunk shows, charity events – all of which I enjoy as much as anything else I do with my evenings or Saturday afternoons as these are pre-Facebook ways of catching up and taking real pleasure in each other’s lives.
Yet I wish I had the opportunity to have more unimportant, casual conversations that have no purpose with people in all aspects of my life. With my close friends we make time to catch up with each other so we can check in on how our children are doing or our extended families as we go for a walk or meet up for a drink or a meal. It takes effort to find time to fit in with each other’s schedules but so worth it. The more we do it the greater the chance we’ll have time for and get better at having all-over-the-place conversations.
I’m in the home stretch of my marathon training as the race is exactly a month away. Ann, my running coach, has me scheduled for my first timed run this weekend. The plan is for me to run 4 hours and see how far I get. I’ve mapped out my fuel stops and places along the way when I’ll do hip flexor and other stretches.
I'm anxious about sustaining my focus for 4 hours but I had a good experience with energy gels during my last long run so I plan to use them on Sunday to help with my mental game. I've got salted caramel and chocolate peanut butter and both taste like cake frosting. I'll take the first energy gel after running 45 minutes and then use one every 30 minutes, except after the third gel I'll use swedish fish for a slower sugar rush and then go back to the gels.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
I was blown away by last night’s performances at the Country Music Awards – particularly “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town and Keith Urban (I want his haircut) and John Mellencamp’s duet of “Pink Houses.” I’ve added these to my chill mix as well as Little Big Town’s “Life in a Northern Town” and Patti Smith’s “Paths That Cross.” Patti has a new memoir out and when I went back and listened to some of her early music I had forgotten about this song she performed for Robert Mapplethorpe when he was at the end of his short life.
See you next time!