“Running is fun!” ~Psychopaths
About three years ago, I joined a women’s only fitness studio and truly, it changed my life. I have always enjoyed physical activity, but in the past, I had a habit of joining big gyms, for like five minutes.
Then, I would get super bored, because I didn’t know what I was doing, and then I would quit….four years later….because canceling a gym membership is the tenth circle of hell.
But after I had my son and completed my cancer treatments, my body felt like it had been run over by a truck. In addition, my anxiety, which had been a minor issue for me all of my life, suddenly started to attack more often and more viciously than it ever had before.
I talked about it with my doctors and also a therapist I had been seeing for a while. It was normal and typical for cancer survivors to experience symptoms of PTSD and anxiety. Medication was an option, but I didn’t feel like it was a good option for me.
I just needed some way to release that energy from my body. I began to recognize its build up. I could feel that it was trapped, but I didn’t know how to go about getting it out and it made me feel manic.
On the advice of my Oncologist and my Cardiologist, I decided to start working out again. Their suggestion was based more on the physical benefits I would get from regular exercise, but I thought maybe it might be a good way to exorcise some crazy while I was at it.
At first, I bought the book, Fitness for Dummies, thinking it would help me understand how to properly use the equipment at the gym and create a worthwhile routine for myself. And yes, I could have just asked someone, but no I could not. (See post, I’m Known as the Death of the Party).
Anyway, I quickly realized that I was just on my way to falling into the same old failed routine I had gotten myself into so many times before. So, instead, I turned to my community Facebook page for local moms….because if you want to know anything from where to get a good bikini wax, to what that noise was over on Main Street at 4:37am, that’s where you go….and I posted something like the following:
“Hey ladies. I’m looking to join a new gym. Somewhere with maybe small group classes and trainers who tell me what to do. And if they are mean, even better. I need someone to shout my ass back into shape. Thanks!”
Within minutes, I began to receive a flood of responses. Eventually, I chose a new, women’s only fitness studio that had been open for just a few months. I chose them, because I loved their body positive message.
After my first class, I knew this time would be different. Exercise has been a game changer for me, both physically and mentally and it’s a literal lifeline I can’t do without. And it was thanks to joining my gym, that I came to know my friend Gazelle. (I call her this, because she has the body of Gisele, minus the height, and she runs like some kind of prancing, dainty, woodland creature).
Gazelle doesn’t teach at my studio. I know her through a game of six degrees of separation that includes both a personal and exercise related connection. It was through that combination that I came to attend a cardio-kickboxing class she was hosting to raise money for charity.
The class kicked my ass. In a good way. So I began following her around to other gyms, where I take her class as a drop-in whenever possible. She’s amazing.
Fitness is her full time job. She has a degree in Exercise Physiology, but instead of working in a clinical setting, she likes to teach. She gets up most mornings around 4:00am to begin her day, which includes a variety of classes taught at several different gyms. I’ve seen here around noon-time when she’s already five classes into her day and you’d never know it.
In addition to her workload, she’s an avid runner and she’s constantly trying to get me to take it up.
“Hey, want to go for a run today? It’s going to be so nice out!” she texts.
“No. Running is dangerous.” I say.
“Running isn’t dangerous! What are you talking about?”
“Um, have you never seen Dateline? Or 48 Hours Investigates? There’s like a 90% chance I’ll be murdered.” I tell her.
“We’ll be together though.” She says.
“No, we won’t. I’ll quit after three minutes and tell you I’ll catch up. And by the time I’m attacked, you’ll be too far away for me to trip you as a sacrifice to save myself.”
“Want to go for a run? The foliage is beautiful!” She tries again.
“Imagine how much better I’ll be able to see it while walking.” I say.
“Let’s go for a run today! Just a short one!” She begs.
“I’d love to but I can’t. Oh wait. No, I wouldn’t love to.”
“Ok, I know you’ll probably say no, but how about you give running a chance today?”
“I can’t, I hate it.”
“Have you ever tried it? Like REALLY tried it?”
“Yes, that’s how I know that with every stride, a part of my soul dies.”
“You are so dramatic.”
“Hey friend, great day for a run!”
“If God wanted us to run, he would not have killed off the Dinosaurs.”
“That makes zero sense.”
“It makes perfect sense. Think about it while you’re running today. Alone.”
I’m just not a runner.
There have been many times I’ve gone out and invested in expensive, top of the line running shoes, devised a training plan and envisioned myself crossing the finish line of the Boston marathon. But then, I just end up gardening in my expensive, top of the line running shoes and watching the marathon from a bar on Beacon Street.
And I can always tell who the real runners are vs. the people like me who go out thinking, I’m going to pound out some miles and then end up walking three minutes in, because running is stupid.
Real runners seem to glide, their strides steady and light, their facial expressions stoic, their breathing, steady.
When I run, I look like a sack full of rocks being dragged across a bumpy road as I desperately suck wind. My facial expression says, “This sucks, I’m bored, I hate every minute of this and it’s only been half a block.”
I will hike for dozens/hundreds of miles carrying a 20 pound backpack up and down mountains for days and I won’t complain, even once. I will bike ride for hours. I will Spin and Barre and Booty Build and Muscle Pump and Namaste every day of the week….but I cannot bring myself to jog a lap, let alone a mile.
So I will keep on telling my friend no. And she will continue to ask.
I will offer to drive alongside her in my car, while she runs. Promising to shout out inspirational quotes, throw paper cups of water at her and play Eye of the Tiger at the highest volume setting for as long as her little legs will go.
And she will attempt to trick me into running by using words like “fun run” and promising a “yummy lunch” afterward. And I will tell her that her idea of “yummy” includes a plate of twigs and crab grass and my idea of “yummy” includes cheesecake.
Though it probably doesn’t sound like it, I do appreciate her persistence. I know that it comes from a good place. She’s rooting me on, because she thinks I can do it. She has faith in me and my abilities. Running is a passion of hers and she wants to share it with me. Motivation is part of her job and she is really good at it.
It’s just that in my case, there is no will to find the way. But her constant nagging has encouraged me. I work out harder, because of her. I push myself every workout and when I think I’m at my max, I push just a little bit more.
But if you ever see me running, you should probably start running too….because chances are, a zombie, or a serial killer is gaining on me.