For the last few months I’ve been trying to run as part of my stay in shape/don’t stress out so darned much exercise regiment. Because it’s been winter, and cold, and we’ve gotten buckets of snow for most of that time, I’ve been running on the treadmill at my gym. Which is…okay. I listen to my music, and I watch some of the other people exercising. But it’s also boring. The scenery never changes, and without the constant succession of songs it feels like there’s no passage of time. Plus I’ve gotten a little burned out with people who choose, out of all the empty treadmills, the one next to me to slowly walk while sipping surprisingly strong-smelling coffee.
On few nice days, when the snow has been melting, and the temperature hops up a few degrees, I’ve given running outside a try. One thing I’ve found for certain, it’s more interesting than the gym. Sparrows cut you off, dogs bark in windows. Even embarrassing encounters with neighbors while you’re red-faced and wheezing are a little interesting. I stretch out my legs, I run steadily up a hill, and I feel a momentary sense of freedom.
But only momentary. The cooler air carves out my lungs, the hills burn my thighs, and there’s no handy cup holder for my water bottle, leaving no relief for a thirst that feels like someone toweled off the back of my throat and is now pinching it.
I can’t run for as long, or as far, before my lungs can’t take it, before my hammering heart screams at me to slow it down. I don’t like this bit. It feels too much like a backward step, a loss of the accomplishment I’ve felt as I worked my way up to longer and longer runs at the gym, and seeing it that way leaves me quite a bit depressed.
But maybe it’s just something new, something less safe and less easy, that gives me a new perspective, changes me, and hopefully — for my heart’s sake — makes me stronger.