I thought I’d talked myself out of working out, but I found myself putting on my running clothes to head to the gym.
When I walked outside, it was stunning. A bit of chill was in the air which we’ve missed this Winter. Bright blue skies and glorious sunshine smiled at me. I couldn’t resist the loveliness, so, I headed to an outdoor track nearby.
It’s been a while since I stepped on that track. I can’t even remember the last time. So, you can imagine I was a bit unsure of myself.
Before getting out of my car, I surveyed the situation.
There was a tall, slender man with a Mercedes Marathon Finisher shirt sprinting down the track doing speed work.
There was another man with a lady who was speed walking. We’ll call her Speed Walking Sally.
It seemed safe enough.
I eased out of the car and made my way into a lane feeling more than a little self-conscious because of the extra weight I’m carrying.
I started my wog. (That’s where you walk more than you jog for those unfamiliar with Nikolisms.) I struggled at first and was totally out of breath by the time the interval ended.
Negative thoughts bombarded me.
“You’re so fat.”
“How could you let yourself get this out of shape?”
“You did a half Ironman, and now you can’t even run a lap without stopping!”
“You’re never going to get back into shape!”
But I kept going.
By about the third interval, I started to get into a groove. I could feel my runner’s feet beneath me again. After all, there is an athlete in there somewhere trying to get out again.
And then it happened.
I was about half-way into the interval approaching Speed Walking Sally from behind. She turned and looked back. I saw her mouth move and a smile on her face, but I had no idea what she was saying. I took my earbuds out and said, “Pardon?”
She said, “I want to run, and I can’t yet. I’m impressed.”
“Thank you,” I said gasping for air.
All at once, I was hit by encouragement and shame.
I was encouraged by her words.
But ashamed by my pity party.
There I was running (if only in short intervals) and here was a lady who couldn’t even run, and I was feeling sorry for myself. Instead of relishing in what I could do, I focused on what I couldn’t.
I thought about those I know who cannot run. I’m going to start running for those people.
I’m going to run for my friend who has nerve pain and can’t be as active as she’d like.
I’m going to run for my friend who has Cystic Fibrosis.
I’m going to run for my friend who in slowly making a comeback from a terrible car accident.
I’m going to run for my co-worker who just had knee surgery.
I’m going to run for Speed Walking Sally.
And I’m going to run for myself simply because I can run.
And when I do run, I’m going to be excited about it no matter how badly my lungs burn or how loud my legs scream.
I’m going to run, and I’m going to be grateful.