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Getting back in shape…

November 11th, 2003 · No Comments

Abigail declares “Michaela and me are in shape,” implying something else about her mother, as we three all stretch together on the living room carpet, seeing who can touch her toes. And she’s right. A jog around the block will prove it.

I don’t know how I got out of shape. Well, yes I do. Although I kept jogging and then, after 32 weeks, walking until Elisabeth was born, somehow it was much harder after this birth to keep exercising. I think I just had other priorities such as sleep! And it’s been hard to get back in the habit again of getting up early enough for all I need to do. I need to get disciplined again. To make time. To make it a priority. To run again.

Getting in shape is like running over a hill in itself, such hard work to start, going up, but once I gain endurance, then all I have to do is maintain it. But the beginning is not a lot of fun, I find. My muscles complain and my mind at times thinks I’m crazy or would rather stay in bed. Sometimes I even have what my high school coaches called “stress-induced” asthma, making breathing more difficult work. It’s enough to make this mother question her motivations in the morning.

In high school, I raced cross-country and track, the seasons giving me reason to train. Even afterwards in college, I had times where I ran more intensely, working towards my own goals in my mind, hoping one day maybe to try a marathon.

Now I’m less driven than I once was, but this time I have two motivations. I’ve got some clothes in the closet that I wish would fit better on this post-baby body. But the more important one, I find, is simply the way I feel when I run or walk. There’s something about the time to myself in the early mornings, time for my mind to wake, my body to warm up, feeling the cool air, sensing the sights and scents and sounds. I have time to meditate, to be still in my mind, time to race out tension, time to relax. Saying hi to the neighbors, exchanging waves and smiles. Noticing the weather: getting wet in the rain and warm in the sun. Seeing what got eaten in our garden and admiring what’s growing in other’s yards. Picking up the paper on the way into the house and skimming headlines while I stretch. No matter how tired I feel, I always feel better after exercising. And I find I like going outside the best. There’s something about being in nature, in the open air, that is even more refreshing to me. Aerobics, weight-lifting, exercycle, treadmill, the indoor activities only confine me…I’ll tolerate them if I have to but nothing else I’ve tried has been more me than a run outside.

Somehow too I have gotten a reputation in our neighborhood as a runner. Perhaps it is because I run laps around the loop, so I pass by every house. People can see me from their living room windows or as they leave to catch the boat. Some even appear to be amazed by my activity, giving me comments and compliments. But all I am doing is running once or twice around the block. It’s not that far to run. In fact, the reason why I run around the neighborhood is that I’m not in good enough shape to run beyond it! I feel embarrassed.

It’s a pretty humbling time of year to be trying to run again, with the high school cross-country championships happening this week. This island is home to many good runners, including one girl who placed third in the state. There was a picture of her in the paper running at a course where I once ran in high school. Now I was never a champion runner. But I would have been quite mortified as a teenager to see the runner I’ve become now, twice my lifetime later. To be able to run the length of that ol’ race course would make me very happy right now – never mind being able to kill the hills! Reading about runners in the paper brings back memories of my own hill-killing days (one year, after the movie, we as a team talked about imagining “Gremlins” on the hills and then running them down!). I remember the disappointments and the dreams. Who I was and who I am becoming.

So I’ll keep on running. I’m almost up to 2 miles now. I’m embarrassed to admit how hard I had to work to get there. But I want to keep it! Taking it slow though so that I don’t have knee problems as I have had in the past.

I think my feet though may be contributing. Turns out that now I am a size 10 – 10.5 Wide. After three babies, I’m not that surprised but it does make it harder to find shoes I like that look and feel nice.. .I need to get new running shoes too, I can almost feel it. I had been wearing Adidas Brahmas for a while but last fall I got fitted with a pair of Asics gels (not sure which model) that have been making my pronating feet happy, along with some green Superfeet insoles…

Well, it’s about time to stop blogging so I can start sleeping. My early morning runs begin the night before, when I go to bed on time! Ah, I can feel it already, the slight chill as I step outside, down the stairs and onto the sidewalk, braid bouncing on my back, arms in well-trained Ls at my sides, feet moving forward, step by step, block by block.

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