Reflections on Running

I have written before about my two attempts at running. Nothing spectacular and, you see, nothing really to it. I tried getting into running and failed. True, at the time (as now) I could the humor in the situation – I believe my words were “twenty feet out from the driveway and my left lung collapsed”. But abject failures indeed were these efforts. 

And I have often almost cared enough to ask myself why. You see I don’t like to fail. In fact, I fear failure so much that I simply do not attempt things I know I cannot master. Really I don’t like to try things in which I won’t excel. 

I think the reasons for my failures lie in the reasons why I was running in the first place. To be clear I’m talking about actual running here. The first time it was to have something over which to bond with my brother. The second time it was to impress a friend of mine (and because he’s pretty cool and I like spending time with him and he’s a runner). But these are not good enough reasons to sustain a habit of running. Let’s face it. Running sucks. I hear it releases all kinds of magical LSD-like chemicals in the bloodstream and people who run have mystical experiences where they get invited to raves with dead celebrities and all. But I have my doubts. 

And now once again I am running. So what’s changed?


A year and a half ago I had my second spinal fusion. They say I can probably hold out another ten years before I find myself in the same place. This time, that’s not good enough. I never considered myself in bad shape but I knew the time had come to tackle getting in great shape now. So two months ago, with nothing much to hold me back (I’m a teacher and it was summer) I took the training advice of that cool friend I mentioned and decided to hunker down. 

OK so here’s the problem. This guy has been in phenomenal shape since his teenage years. Me? Not so much. I played tennis for a while as a youngster and lifted weights (without much guidance) for a while as an adult but had no idea what I was doing. He set me up with a routine and his patience with me (and time spent on me) have been invaluable. And thanks to a gift I have called determination I have stuck with a grueling regimen. To my surprise when this guy saw me after a month in his plan he remarked that I was looking great. Push ups, box jumps, and some sadistic thing called a burpee all played into this routine. My goal is to strengthen my core and protect the spine. 

One day a few weeks ago this guy mentioned casually how his own fitness goals have changed over the years. “I’ve had the six pack and I’m not playing that game anymore.”  Really? What’d you do with it? Is it in your closet ’cause I’ll take it off your hands if you’re not using it. See, as much as I desperately need to do this for my health I’m not going to lie and say that the coincidental side effect of looking like a rock star aren’t appealing.

But in all seriousness I’m starting to see some improvement. Parts of me are getting pretty toned while others are shrinking. It’s all good. And seeing the results definitely helps keep me motivated. 

So running…

Something I’ve noticed is that having a fitness goal has been good for me in other ways. It is taken my mind somewhat off of a stressful job situation and other small matters like infertility. I have been focused on taking care of myself. So, looking back on these past failures, I decided to set another goal. I want to be able to run 2 miles. I know to serious runners that goal sounds ridiculous. But I’m an ambler and a smoker (another goal) and I have to correct for those failures. And again, thanks to his patients and expertise, I have been able to start toward that goal. Baby steps.

I’ve been running with him several times now. Each time has been for no more than 15 minutes broken into sets of 30 seconds running and 12 seconds walking. I’m trying not to think about what my dog-like painting makes me look like on the track. And he’s been good about not sprinting too far past me or running so many extra laps that I’ve lost count. In the end though, I must let go of my innate desire to see immediate results and accept a slower timeline, trusting that results will come.

In the meantime, The original routine he gave me is going well. True, there was one humiliating moment yesterday. I have a tendency sometimes to think that I’m doing really well simply because I can do something better today than I could yesterday. The two of us found ourselves in the fitness center at work doing pull ups. Turns out, my form might be severely impaired. He corrected me as I hoped that he would. Hell, if he doesn’t give me honest feedback I will never know that I’m not doing it right. But to keep things balanced, I could not do a single pull up one month ago. And did I mention the whole double spinal fusion thing? I know, I hate excuses too. So I won’t use any.

All in all, I write this tonight to take stock of where I have been, where I am now, and where I hope to be in the near future. But I also write this as a way of saying thank you to my friend. I always knew that if I had a good personal trainer I could make an honest go of getting in shape. I’ll just put this out there, this guy’s the best.

Now I’m off to see if I can find that missing six pack. 


3 responses to “Reflections on Running

  1. Good for you!!!!!!! Working out is about both physically and mentally feeling good. The effects of looking good help as well.

    I still suggest yoga or pilates. Both are great core strenghthenes and great to strech your muscles since running shortens them. Yoga also helps you live in the now which you need to run. Its such a mental challsnge. I like to mix it up kick boxing, yoga and running.

  2. thats awesome, I’m so,proud of you! I need some motivation (and time :)) now

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