Ever since we moved to our new rental house in a small town 30 minutes from Springfield, I’ve felt a little restless. I really come to life outdoors, it’s where I find my peace – and while I could get my needed doses of the outdoors in our old house (where we had a backyard of large trees, a little garden, and also a large park within blocks) I don’t have any of that at our new diggs. To the left of our house, a bank parking lot. The right, an alley street, and behind it is the fence of our neighbor’s yard with enough room for us to put our trash can next to the alley. It’s hard to get fresh air next to a trash can, or on our front porch where the traffic is surprisingly robust for such a small town. I’m not writing this to complain, but to illustrate a point: I feel like a caged lion!
I work from home, so if I don’t do something about this, I can easily go several days without leaving the house. I may be an introvert, but I’m not a hermit – so the answer came to me over several weeks of finding myself doing laps around the house like dogs do sometimes when they get a random burst of…manic insanity.
So, I decided to run. Not for any of the same reasons I’ve decided to in the past, like weight control or physical health, but for my mental sanity. And somehow, my mind takes better to preserving itself than it does my body – so this time I didn’t let the normal excuses stop me. Yesterday I got fitted for the right running shoes for my feet, and purchased them along with a pair of running pants and a wicking base shirt. We don’t have the budget for all the running gear under the sun, but I got enough to get me started. (I’m writing a post later this week on figuring out that I needed more than motivation to run).
So today, in the wind-advisory, chilly, rainy weather, I went on my first run. I used the Couch 2 5K app on my iPhone – it interrupts your music to tell you when to run and walk, gradually increasing the proportion of running to walking over 9 weeks.
And here’s the part where I tell you that it felt great achieving my goal; except, I’m going to tell you the truth instead. I did not feel great, and I did not exactly achieve my goal. Let me explain:
If I’m going to be honest, the things I thought would bother me did not; my knees and feet did not hurt, the cold and rain didn’t get to me. Some things somewhat bothered me; the self-consciousness as small town drivers unaccustomed to seeing runners (especially in the rain) slowed down as they drive past me. That self-consciousness is something I’ve got to get over and one of the reasons I want to do this. Then there were the things that did bother me; my teeth and inner ears throbbing in pain (that caught me by surprise), my earbuds falling out, and the worst of it was the burning lungs. I expected coming home rejuvenated and pumped up, but instead I stumbled into my house after ignoring the lady telling me to run three times in a row, wheezing and trying not to throw up.
Sure, I did it, and I’m glad I did. I’m not going to stop. The reasons for doing it far outweigh any excuses not to. But it’s not easy to start a new habit. I’m 23 years old with average weight and no major health problems. And the easiest running course kicked my ass. So if you’re older or perhaps overweight, take comfort in knowing that no, it would not necessarily be easy if you are younger or thinner. Those things don’t equate to fitness any more than being rich equates to true happiness. We all have to start where we are, realizing that the size of the obstacles we allow to stop us is our choice. Someday I won’t be wheezing the whole way, and I look forward to that, but for now I’m satisfied knowing I tried. Even if I didn’t make my goal or feel like superwoman, this is the reality of running for now, and doing a crappy run is better than no run at all.