Before I left on my trip to Eastern Europe, I used to work out about four to six times a week, often rising before work to go to the gym to lift weights or to venture into Central Park where I would run. My workout in the park was usually four to six miles of steady running or to do a warm-up of one to two miles and then pound up a steep hill ten times or do a few 60-second sprints with 60-second breaks. After this, I would wind down by jogging home and stretching, maybe some ab work, feeling tired but prepared to start my day, the hard part already over.
Yesterday, I went on a run in the park. Though running is pure perspective. Others might consider what I did a fast walk. I did the bottom loop of the park (my former warm-up) and then I jogged home. It took me 30 minutes. It was hard. I was breathing heavy. My mind was racing anytime I reached the bottom of a small hill. Can I handle this? For the first half of the workout, I wondered when it would be over, when I would break down and start to walk. But I did not walk, I simply trotted along, and by the second half, while still tired, I started to feel more comfortable and by the time I was by apartment, I felt pretty good.
It's upsetting what five months of inactivity can do.
But I know from experience that if I keep at it, within a few weeks, I will be able to run two loops and then four miles and then six miles and if I want it to, the torture of running as fast as I can uphill will become a regular fixture of my life once again.
The feeling that I got in my first few minutes of my run is a feeling I am having constantly lately--in job searching, in writing, in my relationships, in my new apartment, in New York City, in America, in the current state of my life. When will this be over? Can I handle this? Will I break down and start to walk? A part of me wants to keep running, another wants to walk really badly, while still another dreams to sit in the sidelines and watch the runners go by while eating a big slice of cake. And hopefully those sidelines are located in another country where I can sit in the sun, and explore new places and meet new people and not have to worry about anything.
I watched a documentary this week called the Spirit of the Marathon. The movie chronicles the stories of a few people training to run the Chicago marathon--showing how they spend four months running an insane amount of distance to build the strength to do the 26.2 miles. On the big day, the day they have all been waiting for, the camera flashes on the spectators on the streets, who are cheering the runners as they pass by. One man holding up a large sign sums it all up: "YOU ARE ALL CRAZY."
The sign flashing on the screen made the audience in the theater, I am sure many former marathoners like myself, chuckle knowingly.
But is it more crazy to go or to stand still? What I know about running, if I keep going, if I keep training, the runs will only get better and more enjoyable. So wouldn't that mean that if I keep moving on all aspects of my life, the discomfort will eventually go away? The laws of running would say so. I just never thought of it that way before.