Reflection: Road to Running

Now that I’m over half-way into this walk/run program, I thought I would reflect a moment on where I am right now with running.

It’s unbelievable, in some ways, that I’m going out of the house, four times a week, and instead of hiding on an eliptical trainer in the corner of a gym, jiggling and jogging past neighborhood people for thirty minutes. Even better, I’m doing this with shorts that show my flabby thighs and shirts that expose my flabby arms. This, I’m finding, is the side-effect of weight loss. Much as with my venture into scuba and the wetsuit, I respond to my fears of judgment from others with a, “Well, I don’t see YOU daring to do what I’m daring to do.” What I’m choosing to do isn’t easy – either diving or running. People much thinner than me can be just as unable or fearful to be out in the world and do what I’m doing.

I’m finding that sometimes, on my “off days” from running, I really just want to go out there anyway. I jogged yesterday, and I try not to run two days in a row except on Saturday and Sunday just to give myself a rest. The thing is, though, is that I enjoy going out and going around the neighborhood. Yesterday I tried a new route. It’s tricky to find a mostly flat route in Seattle, but luckily where I’m at there are a few north/south streets that run parallel, and aside from *getting* to those streets, they stay fairly flat.

This past Saturday, Jon and I went to Green Lake Park, an Olmstead designed park about 5 miles from where we live. The trail around the lake is about 2.8 miles around, and features a gravel and asphalt path for both walking/running and wheeled bipeds. Jon and I just walked about a third of the path to check it out. Driving to a park to run seems wasteful to me, but the was something just absolutely lovely about the area that may make the trek worth it.

I’m not sure exactly how I got to where I am today – with scuba or with running (or jogging, as is currently my speed.) A large part has to do with weight loss, which I like to de-emphasize, even if it is something that is obvious to see. I think of myself as the same person wearing different clothing – not necessarily any smaller or less healthy. There are definitely positive health benefits to the weight loss, and life benefits including making my active pursuits easier. One thing I remind people is that when I was at my heaviest, I would go to the gym 3-4 times a week and do at least 30 minutes, and sometimes an entire hour of cardio before going on to the weight machines. I would often be able to lift more than women half my size. Finally, I never had high blood pressure – the downside of that being that now I tend towards low blood pressure, and have to be careful when getting up from a seated position, or making sure I’m eating protein in the morning to avoid a carb-crash.

Health isn’t necessarily something that’s visible. I’m more physically healthy now, but not because I’m smaller, but because I’m doing a wider range of activities than I was before. Another part of health is all in your head – and that’s where my real work hasn’t really started. I’m a work-a-holic, someone who deals with work stress and life stress by working harder, more intensely, and getting lost in minutae that compound the stress from before. This is unhealthy in its own way, but it’s not something you’ll necessarily see if you pass me on the street (aside from my furrowed brow, which is more obvious now that I’ve lost the fat that kept those lines from appearing!)

It’s a long road to holistic wellness – and I don’t think it’s one that really has an end to it. Maybe it’s not so much an endless path but an entrance to a state of being we arrive to, and endeavor to stay in its circle. Something to think about.