There’s a story about a man who’s out-of-shape. He goes to his doctor, who recommends running.
“Run three miles a day, and call me back in a week,” the doctor says.
So, the man does and at the end of the week, he picks up the phone and calls the doctor.
“How are you doing,” asks the doc?
“Great – but I’m 21 miles from home!”
It is that sense of futility that I take into my new found desire to be a little more fit. My diet is now close to a month old. The easy pounds came off first and my clothes fit a lot better. The loss has slowed down.
I’m still a middle aged guy and everything that implies. I look like someone who leads a well catered, sedentary life.
A few days ago my co-worker Gil (the Marine) came by. We took a nice brisk walk. This was charity on Gil’s part (Unless… maybe he’s trying to kill me? Hmmmm) because he could surely do what we did walking on his hands. As I’ve been told – you never stop being a Marine.
There was a sense of accomplishment in that walk, so today I set out to pick up the pace. It’s been a long time since I ran. It was something I never did well.
Those who’ve seen me walk know I do it with an odd gait, my toes hitting the ground long before my heels.
I immediately felt the additional weight my body has put on over the years. It was totally obvious as my feet hit the pavement. All these years and that memory was strong.
I made it to the end of my street and turned up a small incline (I’d never noticed it was an incline before). I was huffing and puffing.
Our neighborhood is quiet in the early afternoon. I slowed down. I didn’t want to collapse and then wait hours for the corpse to be found.
Sweat was beading on my forehead. My shirt had a dark spot where it clung to my perspiring chest. I slowed to a walk, my hands on my hips in that ‘futile runner’ position you see elite athletes assume right after they finish the marathon.
Damn you elite runners!
I continued along my route, alternating between running and walking. I didn’t stop. I pressed forward.
At one point I got behind our mailman’s truck. Every time I’d approach, Rudy would flick the ignition, shift into gear and rumble ahead. I was now living the life of a spaniel.
It wasn’t until Rudy delivered a package (positioning his wheel chock behind the read tire, on a flat piece of pavement¹) that I passed him. Would he notice me as I moved silently along the left side of his van, or would he just pull out and – thwack?
A good mailman wouldn’t do that. Too much paperwork!
Meanwhile, I was feeling closer-and-closer to death. Luckily, I made it home where a fresh bottle of very cold water (and two aspirin) waited.
By writing about this very simple first step, I’m hoping to guilt myself into continuing. Exercise is good I guess… well, except for Jim Fixx. It’s just so damned inconvenient. Everything else is more fun. Everything!
¹ – The Post Office mandates this ‘wheel chock behind the tire – 100%’ policy so we can continue to make them the world’s easiest target for inefficiency.