Track and Field
I was never much of a runner. I remember in high school, gym class consisted of running the one mile around the school grounds. My friends and I would run the two minutes it took to disappear from the site of Mr. Hacker the gym teacher, and then pause to smoke a cigarette somewhere between the housing development next door and the thick tree lined growth that separated the two. I didn’t play any sports after my fake attempt to play field hockey freshman year and recreational activities usually involved a nice leisurely sport like downhill skiing on the epic slopes of Camelback Mountain in the Poconos. My tennis racket served me better as a prop to play air guitar and my bike only took me to my friends houses where we would lay by the pool, not do lapse in it. I was in choir and most of my closest friends were not jocks. Run for exercise? What?
At the end of the 90’s I had lost 30 pounds and I was reading an article on how running was a great way to stay fit and maintain your weight. For those who had never run a day in their life, they also had a step-by-step instruction guide on how to become a runner. Run two minutes, walk to minutes. Next week, run three minute, walk two minutes, etc. With consistent pounding house music blaring in my ears, I eventually was able to run 30 minutes on the treadmill, non-stop.
After moving to San Francisco, I picked up spinning, enjoyed the elliptical and I continued to run on a treadmill for the first few years. But one day, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was so sick of gyms, the smell, the monotonous music, the scenery, or lack there of, I departed the gym scene and discovered the joys of yoga. While yoga is a great work out and an amazing addition to my spiritual practice, I was missing the cardiovascular efforts of running. Walks and hikes were already apart of an average weekend, but if I wanted to kick my workout routine in the butt, and loose some of the weight I gained back, I had to turn it up a notch. One of the benefits of bay area living is the weather and I also found myself surrounded by marathon runners, serious bikers and tri-athletes, additional motivators. Taking it to the streets was my only option.
I’m not as bad-ass as I think I am!
Well, running outside is a whole different game, it’s much harder. The consistency of the belt on a treadmill, makes it easier to keep your pace, and in my case, therefore enabling me to run a decent distance. But with the same strategy that I used the first time, I slowly built up my tolerance for the endurance I needed and eventually found the peace and meditative aspect of outdoor running. I run at a slower pace because I never want to stop liking it. I run, actually it is more of a jog, to get fresh air, to meet my vitamin D quotient for the day, and I run to be in nature. I see the trees, hear the birds and engage with the Universe at a level of gratitude for it’s magnificence.
So what’s a girl to do back on the east coast in 10 degree or 102 degree weather? Well, in 10 degree weather, nobody was outside. But in 40 degree temperatures I bundled up and was able to walk outside, still meeting most of my needs of the outdoor experience. But right now at a consistent 90 something, humid, sticky, oppressive heat, I have no choice.
At first I gave the treadmill the stink eye and tried to run without music. No luck. I think I lasted 7 minutes. But then I turned on my rockin’ tunes and next thing you know I was seeing the miles add up…. with only a mild case of boredom. Then last week the most interesting thing happened. I was once again on the treadmill and was not enjoying myself. There were no soaring birds to watch, no fresh cut grass to sniff, no breeze to keep me naturally cool, it was just me and the treadmill. Moments later my attention was pulled to my legs. “Wow”! I thought. I am so grateful that I have two strong enough legs that are able to pull me through every stride. Then, “wow”! I am so grateful that my body is capable of handling strenuous exercise and that I don’t have body aches and pains that limit my movement. I was suddenly feeling so lucky to have eyes to watch this human body function in such a fluid synchronized motion it seemed like a miracle. This experience helped me shift my perspective. It is a miracle, and I am lucky I can take advantage of it, any time I want to, no matter where this miracle takes place.