Tonight was my first run since before my surgery, almost 1 month ago. And it felt soooooo good. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been gradually increasing my physical activity. First I began walking to work again, which is 1.25 miles one-way. That first day of walking again was quite possibly the best day of walking to work I have ever had. I’m pretty sure I had this goofy grin on my face the entire time, with people passing by on the sidewalk and in their cars wondering “Who’s the crazy gal?” I’m not ashamed. I know it sounds goofy, but I love my morning commute. It gives me time to think, I get 20-25 minutes of exercise in the morning, and I almost always see something interesting on my walk. This includes sidewalk chalk art, cute miniature snowmen all decked out in gloves and hats, new houses for sale in the neighborhood, someone’s front yard getting dug up due to a burst water pipe, and a very large buck mule deer stalking me down the alleyway, just to name a few. I never know what I’m going to come across on my walk, and that’s part of the reason I enjoy it so much. Walking to work again was great, especially after being cooped up for 2 weeks with no exercise whatsoever, but I needed more, plus it didn’t exercise the dog. Once the sidewalks were clear of ice, my dog, The Stinker, and I began doing neighborhood walks. Eventually we hiked up a short section of trail, and she got to play in the snow. I resumed tap dance lessons, began jumping rope, lifting weights, and doing my sit ups within 3 weeks post-surgery. It felt good, but I was anxious to put on my running shoes again.
Mind you, I am not a fanatical runner. I run pretty short distances. I am slow. I probably average 1.5-2 miles per run, but I run 6 to7 days a week. Some days I do longer runs (4 miles, maybe?) but I am not into long-distance running. At least not yet, and probably never. If you had told me 1 year ago that I’d be running on the trails outside of town, I would have laughed in your face. I’m not really sure what led to it–it probably had something to do with stress relief the first time I ran. There are lots of runners around here, but I’m not one to follow the crowd so I guess I fell into running by chance, or by accident. I found that once I started doing it, I liked the endorphin high I got afterwards. I felt like I was getting myself into shape, and once I began doing it regularly, it became a habit I didn’t want to give up. I also really liked the results I was seeing with my body, a little less flab here, a little more tone and muscle development there–like in my legs. Having runner’s legs is a major motivation for me to keep going, even when I don’t feel like it.
So I was a little surprised (or disappointed might be a better word) that it was a bit of a challenge to go running again…sort of a mental block, I guess. It had been over 3 weeks since my last run. “How out of shape would I be? Would I be wheezing enough to warrant concern from passers by? What if I don’t get that same endorphin rush like before and I find it more drudgery than enjoyable?” Oh, I had plenty of reservations. And excuses. “Trail conditions aren’t all that great right now. The streets are full of cinders and dust, so I don’t want to run on the street because I’ll just be breathing in all that dust. Plus, The Stinker is almost 9 years old, and street running will be hard on her joints.” Yes, the excuses were flowing like the snowmelt in the street gutters. It’s so easy to be lazy and not go out and exercise, and if it weren’t for The Stinker I would probably be a whole lot more lazy. But fortunately she won’t let me be lazy. It is true that the trails are really sloppy right now in the mountains. The snow has been melting rapidly, and the trails range from dry, to muddy, to icy, slushy, and packed snow. All on the same trail. I don’t like to be on the trails when they are muddy because I feel like I am contributing to trail degradation, so I try to avoid the trails I know will be muddy until they have dried out somewhat. Fortunately, there is a trail in the foothills that dries out early, and it is really close to my house. So that was the obvious choice for my first post-surgery run. It’s short (probably less than 1 mile), but it has a few steep pitches to get the heart rate up. I knew if I could tackle this run, I would be back in the game, so to speak. It turned out to be a great run, and just the right distance for now. I just had to make myself ask The Stinker, “Do you want to go for a run?” As she jumped up and stretched, flashing me a huge smile, I knew that was all the motivation I needed to get myself out the door.