I have lived a physical experience unlike many of my peers. I’m getting bigger and healthier as I get older – so much. Growing up with chronic, debilitating asthma meant I had almost no physical fitness or ability as a kid. As a teenager I studied hiking, and I had to climb both literal and figurative mountains. I’ve already worked my way through the opportunity, spirited, capable — and comfortable — in new experiences abroad.
Therefore, it is new to me, at this time in my life, to realize that I have lost some degree of fitness. If that’s what you want, I’ll take care of it, and yet it will never be quite the same. Many of you reading this are like: “Voy club.”
The funny thing about losing fitness is that it doesn’t happen from one day to the next. I know here, for example, the distance runner. But of course I didn’t go because I thought I’d discover it in months. My watch, which I got for Christmas, tells me that I lost a few 5-mile runs, one 6-mile one in January, but I’m generally healthy, and I’m running 3-mile hours.
It started well in December when we sold our house. My standard 5 mile run around our neighborhood was frustrated by the task of pushing our driveway almost every day with as much snow as the sky threw at us, and other routine — and then some — chores. It was a good army, but it should not flee from time to time.
What on earth do I mean by luxury, you ask? Think – it’s really a privilege to have time to prepare, to complete, to recover from the run itself. The whole endeavor requires planning, study, good execution, and then a long, hot shower, quickly sprinkled over a very comfortable bed and a fluffy bath. It’s a lot harder and less fun when you’re tight on time, hence the wrong definition of “luxury”.
Then I decided to take on the “Ranuary” challenge, that is, running every day in January. I finished most of the days, and when I didn’t have an alternative activity that had reached the day – hiking, biking. But to avoid injury, I kept to my usual running distance of about 3 miles.
I realized that I was running a short 3-mile standard. I was able to play at speed, something I was shocked to discover in the past year. I didn’t feel hungry all day compared to running at high volume. And, of course, the average 30-minute run is a lot easier to complete than longer distances, since it fits neatly into an otherwise active lifestyle.
He ran short, 3 miles over the past two months.
This Saturday as I walked with my husband to the once-used 7 mile loop, something tickled in the back of my mind. I wonder, I hardly feel myself, what I should feel.
During the peak of the pandemic-lockdown phase, I ran this loop — the Bodenburg Loop in the Palmer Butte neighborhood — regularly on weekends. It was mental health for me, to the extent that I would have been emergency at that time, combined with the maintenance of the “baseline” body – yes, 7 miles are placed for me at that point. I’m trained for marathons, a level of fitness that I enjoy when I have it.
I’ve been riding this past week, although I noticed earlier that my legs feel stiff and cold. Am I late? I checked the aforesaid watch, still new to me, and did not see that I was running at my usual pace. It just took me a while to warm up.
By mile 3, I felt pretty good! Just stop in the act.
But I would go on.
Mile 4 flew by, but by time five, I could feel the muscles in my inner thighs. This feeling is unique to me when running. After running a long distance, my awareness of my working muscles is a sign that I am working; they are always very late.
At mile 6, I took myself to the course—already snowy and uneven—biking the road for at least another half mile, then checking to see how I was feeling. I was allowed to walk if I wanted to.
In that half mile, everything came back to me: my passion for increasing distance, weekend, long distance; the mental illusion of imagining that the distance before my threshold was actually the beginning of a brand new course, knowing the difference between what I had done before, and what I could accomplish today, was my training. The whole benefit of training runs in that part, which was the most difficult to complete, but also pushed me to the next level; which the following weekend, unless it was designated as a rest/reception, would go on until I completed the final goal of any kind.
It made me think that this is a good time in my life, full of so many moving parts, to experience the “mouth” and speak through me.
At mile 6.5, I slowed down until I was walking. I wondered if I had made the right choice the first time – I came close to hitting “Start” on my watch a few times again, thinking about 7 miles with only .5 miles ahead of me.
But then I thought I could always go back and do it next week.
And then I thought that it would be a war to start a long distance again.
The beautiful thing about losing fitness is that I’ve already earned it, I know the road I can get back to, and I’m confident that I won’t just be able to – I’ll enjoy the steps that get me there.