Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Exercise Lightbulb

I've never considered myself to be absolutely full of smarts, but recently I had an "Aha moment" while running.

Throughout my 45 years, I've had small stretches where I've tried to run. First competitively, in junior high (I brought home a second-place ribbon in a "B" race once), and then on several different occasions as an adult, when I tried to add some exercise to my life.

But in each of those adult efforts, there were two major problems for me:
     1) I had a very specific goal in front of me, like a scheduled event, and when I achieved that goal, the running stopped. Immediately. Several years ago, I worked pretty hard as part of a team sprint triathlon; I was doing the running leg. Felt pretty good about myself, and I ran the 5K without stopping. But when that Saturday was over, I didn't run again for over a year.
     2) I  hate treadmills. When I started this weight-loss challenge with Jess several weeks ago, I decided to make running part of my routine. But I would get on the treadmill at the Y and would immediately start staring at the screen in front of me that tells me how far I've run. First I would watch the tenths of a mile tick off, and then I would start thinking, "OK, just three more hundredths of a mile and then I've run another tenth!" It was all I could do to run a mile before my mind just couldn't take the distance-watching anymore. Finally, about a month ago, I got to where I could go 1.5 miles. But it was painful to my mind.

And then Ivy, the office marathoner who runs 7-8 miles on her days of rest, convinced me one sunny day to run outside. "You couldn't pay me to be on a treadmill on a day like this," she said. As I got home, I didn't pull in the drive. Instead, I drove away from the house and watched my odometer, taking note of spots 1 mile from the house and 1.5 miles from the house. Then I drove back home, changed my clothes and hit the road, music in my ears. I ran all the way to the 1.5-mile spot without really thinking about it, then turned around and ran home. And on the way back, the lightbulb went on.

This was SOOO much easier than a treadmill, because I wasn't obsessing over those tenths of a mile, and because I couldn't just press the stop button and step off. I was a mile, 1.5 miles, from home. I had to get back, so I might as well keep running. Oh sure, I had my phone with me and could have called Dawn. 'Honey, will you come get me? I'm tired." But that would have been more embarrassing than only running a mile on the treadmill. And anyway, she was enjoying dinner with some friends, so I didn't want to bother her.

So I kept running, finished the full 3 miles without stopping and walked in the house totally satisfied and proud.

And I did it again tonight. Next step: Mark off 2- and 2.5-mile spots away from home, so I can work up to 4- and 5-mile runs.


  1. Good for you Phil! When I was in my last two years of high school, I ran track and cross knees don't love running anymore.....but I speed walk every day.....haven't missed a day in 6 plus years....and I only missed a day then cause my son was born! Keep will be happy you did!

  2. Speed walk, huh? Cool! And wow! To do ANYTHING for six years without missing a day is impressive!