Of all the different types of exercise I have tried in my 32 years on this planet, the one I love the most is running.
The first five to ten minutes are the warm-up. You start at a brisk walk and try to get yourself into the zone. Okay, in 8 minutes or so, you’re going to pick up the pace. Are you ready for this? Slowly you feel your joints and your muscles loosening up and becoming more at ease. Then, in my experience at least, I look down at my dog Murphy, and I always say to him out loud, “You ready?” and we begin.
Running outdoors is so much different from running indoors on a treadmill. On a treadmill, it’s all level ground the whole time, always the same pace you’ve put into the machine, you have guard rails and an emergency stop button/cord in case something goes wrong. It’s lower impact, and since giving up smoking on September 1st I can now jog for up to 25 minutes at a decent pace on a treadmill without stopping.
Outdoors is a different ball game. My body is automatically on edge because I injured my ankle in April and it’s taken this long to heal. I’m very aware of my surroundings and nervous to hurt myself again. The first few minutes, my mind is begging me to stop, desperately anticipating the end of this exertion. But nothing makes me feel more exhilarated and free than those moments when I’m running alongside my fur baby, and we are covering that ground as a team, while my skin becomes slick with sweat and my heart beats faster in my chest and the wind is blowing past my face, calming my senses. If you can push past those initial protests, your reward is right there on the other side.
Suddenly all the stress, all the problems of the day begin to fall away, and you can pound them into the pavement beneath your feet and leave them behind. Your mind becomes clearer the farther you go, until it’s just you and your breathing and maybe the music you’ve got playing to give you that extra push and help you keep your pace. I know people love the elliptical, and I enjoy it too, but nothing is quite the same as running. I’m never quite so in tune with every muscle of my body until they are all working together to propel me forward to my next goal. It’s such an emotional experience, and if I go a few days without exercise, the anxiety and depression start to sink in and take over, and I crave the next time I will be able to feel that release.
My fiancé and I are entered into a 5km run on October 30th. I had begun training for it in April, when I hurt myself, and since then I have been afraid I would not be able to run this year. I ran the last two years in a row, and I didn’t do amazing at it, but I completed the run and received a medal of participation. The past few weeks I have been testing myself, and I think I am ready to do this. I may not do well, and I am definitely going to be in pain afterwards, but there is something so satisfying about setting a goal and accomplishing it, no matter how small or insignificant. The excitement of an organized run is pretty awesome! And I am hoping that if I keep up running between now and then, I might get in better shape as well. My weight is always an issue, but at least when I run I feel like I’m doing something about it.
What are your thoughts on running? What are your experiences with it? How has it changed your life?