Every muscle in my body is screaming. They’re not at all happy with me today. That’s because I started running again after a long lay-off from a knee injury and general laziness. Actually, running is too strong a word for what I actually do. It’s more like a slow jog. Some might even consider it meandering.
I’ve always been a slow runner. Even when I was training for a couple sprint triathlons with my bionic friends, Pam and Margo, I never became faster over the months. They assured me if I kept it up and did interval training I’d get quicker. Didn’t happen. A million years ago I was a miler on my high school track team. But I wasn’t fast then either. I think I’m programmed for endurance. Except for now, when my endurance is on hiatus.
Anyway, in school I had absolutely no talent for running and never practiced except when the team did. And even then I spent more time gabbing with friends than actually doing any running. It was more a social event for me than anything. Still, I could keep up with the pack for the first half mile but that’s where they lost me. I think my fastest time was a dismal 7.5 minute mile. Talk about embarrassing.
When Pam, Margo and I trained for biking events, they were always a good block ahead of me. But when riding with other friends, I’d be far ahead of them. It was then that I realized Pam and Margo are freaks of nature; both run marathons, hike the hills for miles and ride their bikes for hours. Just for the fun of it. For me, “the fun of it” means a 3 mile run, a 5 mile hike or biking 30 miles. For Pam and Margo, that’s barely a warm-up.
If I ride at my own pace, I can keep going like the Energizer Bunny. When I was 40 I rode the 72 miles around Lake Tahoe on a whim. Used my mountain bike and hardly rode at all beforehand. It took me 8 hours, including a stop for lunch at a lakeside park. I rode it again at age 50 in 6 hours. But the 8 hour ride was just as much fun. Slow and steady as she goes…
Keeping up with Pam and Margo is as impossible as me running a 7 minute mile. Ain’t gonna happen. Anyway, I don’t run to be fast. I run to get more weight bearing exercise to keep my bones from crumbling like a rickety old building in an earthquake. Turns out they weren’t lying when they said use it or lose it.
So I’m on the road again, so to speak, and I’m reminded how quickly body parts atrophy if we don’t use them. Once supple muscles shrink like wrinkly old prunes. Sure, I play a lot of tennis but that’s anaerobic, start and stop stuff. Running is quite a different animal.
Now here’s an embarrassing confession: today I had to stop and walk after only 2 miles. I was relieved that I took the scenic backroad along the dairy ranch so only the cows could witness my humiliation. I ended up running/walking the 3rd mile and as I write this, even my earlobes are sore.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not quitting. When I go out again this week, I know I’ll run a little farther without stopping. Before long I’ll be back to my usual 3 miles without feeling like someone slugged me silly.
But until then, the cows shall remain my only witnesses.