I fancy myself a runner. Or a jogger, as the case may be. As a general rule, I save my miles for clement weather. Put simply, I do not run in the cold. Pish posh on the mildness of Georgia winters; you can let your chest wheeze for an after inhaling frigid air. There are exceptions to my no winter running rule, but more often than not, I hang up my running shoes in November, and pull them out again around March.
I spend the intervening months exercising with a DVD program. When I travel, I take it along. Unless I forget, which is the case at present. En route to the airport yesterday, I realized I packed everything I needed to do PiYo except the PiYo DVDs. Massive side eye to me.
There was no turning back at that point in the journey, and with my destination’s forecast promising sunshine and nice temps, I wondered if I might not run after all.
I’ll skip the part about why I didn’t run this morning, and jump right to the good news: I ran today! And it was challenging, and I had to stop often because of runner’s itch, which sucks. A lot. And blah blah blah, eventually, I hit my 2-mile goal! On a treadmill, no less.
I’m already sore, which is not happy-making. But I am very pleased, which is! The first of spring remains my official target to resume a running regimen, but it’s nice to have unexpected wins.
I’m a self-described athlete. I ran and biked like most kids in my neighborhood growing up. I was a gymnast in elementary school. A cheerleader in middle school. I danced (band auxiliary) and sprinted (varsity track) in high school.
I engaged in fewer structured activities in college, although I danced (partied) several hours a week which definitely counts for something. After college I had an on again, off again love affair with local gyms. I stocked up on exercise DVDs for the off again moments. Even as an elementary school teacher, I woke up early enough to exercise, chant, drive 30 minutes and still get to work by 7 a.m. I prioritized prayer, sleep, laughter, water and movement. They kept me in good spirits and good health.
When I became a full time doctoral student in 2007, things changed. I found myself a recluse when class wasn’t in session. All the time I read and wrote papers, thought about theory, drank coffee and ate McDonald’s. Seriously. All the time.
A few months in, the side effects from that “food” and the disgust from Super Size Me, spurred me to choose healthier meals.
(Sidebar: I didn’t eat fast food for a year after that, and with the exception of two iced coffees in 2007, I’ve never consumed McDonald’s again). I was no longer exercising, because who had the time? But I knew my body was ready to move again.
Despite my desire to exercise, it was a struggle at first. I had to force myself to stop reading or writing to go for a walk or a short run. I argued with myself – one more page, or one more paragraph. Then another. I’d panic as I watched the setting sun, realizing it was now or never. I’d throw on some fitness gear and get moving.
That happened many times, until:
I realized I always felt better after exercise, and
I scheduled it. I made it non-negotiable.
The very first time I put an exercise appointment on my calendar, my dissertation advisor wanted a meeting. I had to break it to her, “No, I’m not available at that time. I’m exercising then.” She, a woman very much into self-care, supported me and offered several other times even with her busy schedule. I understood then, to the degree I was serious about taking care of myself, I could figure out the rest.
And so I set my exercise schedule daily. I incorporated strength training, swim lessons, and running, all depending on my class and homework schedule. I treated exercise like any other important appointment. I was definitely going to attend, so I had to plan the rest of my day around it.
Over time it has become less of an appointment and more of a way of life. Sometimes this means running on treadmills when I’d rather be outside. Sometimes it means a 15-minute high intensity interval workout instead an hour of strength or cardio. Sometimes it means evening workouts although I definitely prefer sunrise exercise.
The point is, I’ve made it a part of my regular routine. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
I’m a runner. After a several month hiatus, I ran a few miles in June of this year, and began running in earnest in July. I was serious about getting back to it. I had stopped earlier in the year due to spending an inordinate amount of time in hotels.
I’m an outdoor runner. Treadmills, while great for me as a new runner, simply irritate me now. Seriously. Staring at wall? Or talking heads? Or those red snaking lights on the console? No.
For some, running is part of a serious training regimen. They’re preparing for races and other sports. Me? I just love the endorphins. Exercising is how I get going in the morning. Many hotels are not situated near runner-friendly territory, and I’m not so dedicated to running that I’ll regularly subject myself to worn-out treadmills and the fight to find a free one.
And so here I was, in a hotel for two nights. As I unloaded my car to check-in, a quick glance confirmed there wasn’t a nice stretch of sidewalk/running path nearby. I’d brought my exercise DVDs so I was set. But I knew I wanted to run. Determined to keep my newly established momentum, I resolved to beat the morning rush and *gag* get my morning miles in on the treadmill.
We shall see. I stopped messing with hotel treadmills long ago. But maybe there’s one available. And that works.
I was proud of myself. And why not? I had a goal and I was well on my way to reaching it. The next day, I stuck to my DVDs. Endorphins flooded my body and all was well. That is until I noticed the sunrise and took a good look out of my window.
Lo and behold, I spotted a sidewalk! Not just any sidewalk, but one alongside a lake! A picturesque, runnable path. And I had missed my opportunity to complete a beautiful outdoor run. Twice.
I couldn’t believe it. I was so focused on “sucking it up” and “sticking to the plan,” that I allowed my previous experiences with other hotels to dampen my curiosity and sense of exploration. I barely looked around before I determined I had no other options. I didn’t even inquire, even though I’d considered doing just that. All because I had convinced myself that what was visible was all there was.
Boy, was I wrong.
That taught me something. It’s great to have a goal in mind and a serious commitment to stick to it. And it’s important to have clear focus so I can dismiss distractions and detractors. But equally important is maintaining an open mind and open heart to be able to explore options that may not be visible to the naked eye. It’s a balancing act. But I’m learning to live in the spaces between focused intention and seeking spirit.
Don’t allow your tunnel vision to block your view of the lake.