Seven weeks ago I started running. Well, jogging actually - the runners are everyone else that pass me at breakneck speed. My run is changing my life.
I've always been active, heck I'm fifty-one, if I wasn't active I'd look like every other fifty-one year old out there. Usually my activity would be the gym - lifting weights. Every-other-day I'd ride my bicycle on a grueling ride up, over, down, and back up through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. It's a tough ride. Usually over an hour and a half. I'd feel good afterwards, but summer found me in a flat beach town - coasting there was hardly a workout. One afternoon I was feeling that sad-slowpoke-sense that my heart was pumping about one beat a minute. I wasn't quite sensing death, but Conrad Murray with his fateful dose felt nearer and nearer as laziness was bearing down on my afternoon. I felt like a lifeless lump. I crawled to the closet, donned a pair of inappropriate sneakers, looked out at the road before me, and figured I'd give it a try. With legs like lead weights I was on my way.
That first run I figured would be my last. I stopped three or four times. I had thought I was in the best shape ever but, after that effort my body had proven me wrong. But wait -- I felt a nice, new tightness across my butt that might mean I would actually look better if I ran and ran. Defeat was no longer an option. The next day I did the same run with two stops. The challenge was on; I became smitten with my new activity. I bought the appropriate shoes, and like brushing my teeth, I committed to a new routine.
Running has leveled my ups and my downs; I no longer yearn wildly, nor do I stew in sad reflection. When I'm feeling low or powerless (this entire past summer!) a run can set me near the top of the world. I still run slowly, but my runs are longer. Back in LA I thought I'd abandon the running for the bike ride, but I'm more addicted to my slow sprint than I had expected. Now almost poetically I run from our smaller rental house (downsizing has been GREAT!!! TOO MUCH STUFF SUCKS! - but that's to be written about later) to the big mansion we recently sold. It's a five or six mile run down Sunset Blvd.. It's a lot of fun as cars whiz past honking their horns in encouragement or maybe even at me! I think about all the days a lifetime ago when I would drive that stretch trying to wake up with caffeine. I realize now, had I just ran to work, I could have saved the gas and the buck for the cup of Columbian-fair-trade mud.
America is overweight and sedentary to a point that a quarter of us are committing unintentional suicide. Maybe you can't make my run, maybe you can't even reach your feet to put on the sneakers, but you owe it to yourself to take the first difficult steps. It gets easier, and easier, then it gets better and better. Then you get pretty. Your confidence goes up and you rejoin not just the living - but those full of life. It's not easy. I know that, heck it was tough for me and I was in good shape. Difficulty is no excuse. An optimist might even call it challenging encouragement! These crisp autumn days are perfect for a more active routine. You'll thank me and be proud of yourself for it. I swear, I swear. Forget THE BIGGEST LOSER, be a thinner winner. But you gotta take the first step outside of your own comfort zone - even if you walk it.