It was Tuesday at 7:00AM, and I put on my shorts, laced up my shoes and hit the road. I would run the trails by my house, covering 2 and a half miles by the time I was done.
I don’t like to run. But I like to have ran. I like the feeling of sweat all over my body. I like the warmth in my muscles, the rush of blood pulsing in my veins. I feel the tension I carry in my neck and back melt away, and I feel myself getting stronger every time I do it.
Earlier this week, I turned 45. Over the last year, I have lost 40 pounds, and could still stand to lose another 40. But I haven’t really exercised at all. Oh, I belonged to a gym, where I paid $25 a month for more than three years, but I seldom went. I would get a routine going, but then would go out of town for work, or I would get busy at work, or any number of things, and then I would break the habit and the next thing you know, it has been six weeks since I have been to the gym and my pants are tight again.
When I was in the Marines, I routinely ran 5 miles a day or so. I was never the fastest thing – my thick ankles and bull neck prevented that – but I was sturdy and dependable. I once ran 10 miles in combat boots, and pretty routinely knocked out 5K races in 28 minutes or so.
That was also 26 years and 60 pounds ago.
But I am at my best when I am moving. As an eight on the enneagram, I tend to carry stress in my body, and kinesthetic is my preferred learning style. I often don’t know something until I do it with my body. Moving is important to me.
I was fairly physically active most of my adult life in a middling sort of way. I played golf with clients when I worked for New York Life, and I lifted heavy weights in the gym and would fight the onset of middle age spread by peddling an exercise bike until my ass was numb. When I moved to Raleigh in 2007, my primary exercise was walking – I regularly walked more than 5 miles a day for the first several years I was here.
And then in fall of 2010, I had a motorcycle accident, breaking my collarbone, putting me on my ass for three months. I gained a lot of weight, and my activity levels never recovered.
Back in February, I realized I needed a physical outlet. Not to lose weight, or even for health purposes, but to have a physical outlet that I would be able to keep up with. That I could do anywhere, any time. That would not cost much money, and that had an easy learning curve and that I could do by myself.
So I began to run again.
I bought some good shoes – they cost about as much as six months at the gym, but I wasn’t actually going to the gym anyway, and this way, I would at least get a pair of shoes out of the deal.
I did the couch to 5K thing for a while, but it moved faster than my body wanted to, so I settled for cycles of a 2 minute run and a 30 second walk. And I do that over and over until I am done for the day, and I do that a couple of times a week and have done for months now.
I think it’s a habit now. I know I feel worse when I skip a day, and antsy if I skip two of them. And I give myself permission to listen to my body and move slowly if I need to on a particular day, or even knock off early if I just am not feeling it. Because this time, I am running just for me.