After all the hiking I did last spring through this fall, I worried about winter. I knew walking outdoors in snow/ice/wind/ would active my princess protest protocol, but I didn't want to fester into inactivity again. Indoor treadmill walking, though, is monotonous when I've gotten used to that which is mountainous, meaning PA Appalachian trail scenery and challenge and joy, and any more coordinated aerobic exercise like dancing or Zumba is outside of my rhythmless comfort zone.
The dilemma: It has to be indoors and it has to be interesting.
What could be more interesting than doing something that has terrified and taunted you ever since you were in elementary school and had to endure the dreaded six hundred in gym class for the fitness test?
Yes, I'm learning to run.
"Run" is an elevated term, as I'm really only jogging slowly, but I'm allowing myself the verb-upgrade decadence.
I'm doing a Couch to 5K Program, which slowly eases you into longer periods of faster moving. It's a well-documented, trustworthy system, and I love that it's brainless and someone else has figured out what to do. A red-headed cartoon lady on the app tells me when to run and when to walk briskly, and mostly she and I get along just fine, despite her refusal to make time go faster. I registered for an actual 5K, my only goal in which is to finish and not-walk.
The first jogging day was, of course, the worst. I had to jog for a full minute interval and had picked a wet, windy, chilly day to do it. (This was before I moved everything indoors until the trees wear buds.) Not having run really ever, my body was sorely miffed. It tried to breathe with every step. (Doesn't work.) It tried to fill its own stomach with daggers. It made pleading eye contact with the super-fit teenager running in the opposite direction, who shared a pitying wave with me and sped up to escape my stumbling.
The second jogging day was vastly better, as I consulted my brother and a friend for breathing advice, but ever since then, each time I jog, my body creates a new excuse that is really all in its mind. "Our nostrils are burning!" it whines. "Our knees are snapping!" it snarks. "You forgot to wear the sports bra and the ricochet effect is knocking the planet off its orbit!" (The last complaint was valid and in no way exaggerated.)
I know these whines are all in my body's mind, though, as I suffer no real injury or even discomfort. It's all part of adjusting to the new, the hard, the foreign. I'm muffling the whine and hoping onward.
And today when I turned into a troll-like nostril-ignorer, I still didn't quit. I did hear the voice of my old orthodontist, though, who looked at my teeth when we first met and uttered a disgusted, "Ugh, Mouthbreather." Apparently old habits are hard to break, but creating healthy and stimulating new ones is still my goal. I'm actually up to twenty-eight minute jogs now, which are exactly twenty-eight minutes longer than I could do three months ago.
So, in May, I hope to be trailing the 5K pack, breathing with my re-trained nose, refusing to walk, and doing something truly embarrassing and over-celebratory when I hit the finish line. There may be jumping, twirling, shouting, dancing.