By TED SILLANPAA
My first step toward running, jogging or walking a 7-kilometer event in Davis on March 9 was to jog 2 1/2 miles around my neighborhood on what I hadn’t realized was a really, really, really warm Saturday afternoon.
It was sunny. It might not have been all that warm, I suppose. I didn’t notice it being warm, frankly, until I’d run a mile or so. At that point, it seemed unseasonably warm.
The woman I’ll be entering the event with (and for) once said, “I’d exercise more, but I don’t like to sweat.” She’s gone through a grueling physical transformation and is now one of those exercise nuts I used to laugh at for planning healthy meals and scheduling training sessions while I was always seemed more fit than they were eating whatever I wanted and running five miles, really fast, every day. So, she’s clearly worried I won’t train for this Davis deal because I won’t train like she’ll train.
You see, she’s just now realizing the joy of getting fit and being fit. Me? I’m sort of settling into accepting that I have no real reason to be fit as long as Dockers doesn’t start making their biggest slack a 38-inch waist.
Speaking of training, and running, I realized today that I can’t think about why I’m doing it. There’s no novelty in my working up a good sweat and pushing myself. I did it my entire life.
When I was 25 or 35, I knew I’d feel better simply by going out and running … hard and up as many hills as I could find. I knew if I lifted weights that I’d hit a raquetball harder. If I did an aerobics class, I’d be a better basketball player. So, reminding myself why I was running 5 miles at a 6 1/2-minute-per-mile pace made training a blast, nothing but a good thing.
I’m jogging 2 1/2 miles, feeling an ache in my low back and calves, so that I can jog-walk 7K with a woman who once admitted she didn’t like to sweat. My 17-year-old son is mortified at the thought that I feel I need to train simply to make sure I can keep up with her. (He still gets high working out. Darn him!)
I pushed through a fairly simple 2 1/2-mile jog on a beautiful day trying not to think about the fact that if I get really fit again it means … it means … I’ll lose a little weight and maybe live a little longer. Maybe.No guarantees at my age. The ultimate running guru, author Jim Fixx, dropped dead of a heart attack at age 52 … after his daily run. He felt great, right up until he died, apparently.
While I pushed through the 2 1/2 miles, the only thing that reminded me that I was ever athletic was that … I realize that I can still push myself through a little discomfort and that I can still regulate my breathing. Oh, and I know that if I’d had to that I could’ve kept running for another mile or two.
I just couldn’t imagine a single reason why I should keep jogging though. The discomfort that comes from jogging now doesn’t scare me anymore than plowing up sand dunes on the coast on a 6-mile run did in 1985 — I just didn’t see any reason to extend the discomfort simply to jog a little further.
And, it was really hot out.