A week ago I placed a demand on my body that I hadn’t in three decades.
I asked it to run. Not a long distance. Perhaps a mile.
A mile is a mile is a mile.
But there are some places, like my Colorado neighborhood, where it’s not.
Because I live close to the foothills, and around here, nothing is flat.
So while there’s this nice little downhill bit to get your speed up, the moment you turn the corner towards the sunrise, you are chugging uphill. And down, and up, and down, and up. It’s a nice workout around here.
Now I’m no stranger to cardio. Running thousands of steps a week is familiar territory. However, running on the flat is a different exercise. Not only is it a very different demand, unlike steps, I can’t use the intermittent platforms to take a cheat break.
Out at Red Rocks Amphitheater where I run something like 2400 steps at a pop, lots of folks have dogs. What a great excuse to get a kiss or two or ten, catch your breath. Head back up. Takes about an hour.
However, I wanted to start running on the flat again to expand the program.
First, it’s hard. Second, it’s a good variation on other work I do. Third, I have developed osteoporosis in my hips. I need more weight-bearing work to strengthen those bones.
I cycle, but cycling specifically bypasses the hips in terms of working the bones to strengthen them. If anything, cycling tightens the hips the same way riding a horse does. Runners, cyclists, riders, we all have tight hips and yoga is one of the best forms of release. Hips are our foundation and they take a lot of work especially as we age.
So yesterday I donned a pair of featherweight, obscenely loud running shoes and hit the deck. I was accompanied variously by Beethoven, Mozart and various comedians. It helps. Easier the second time. Always is.
Today I have mild shin splints. Doesn’t matter. They’ll go away. The more I run, the less it hurts. You just keep adding. It sneaks up on you and suddenly you’re doing four, five miles.
A few years back at age 60 I swore I would NEVER EVER run again. My girl friend Laura Luhn, who just turned 39, began stumbling around her block barely able to complete a mile.
Now she does the Leadville 100, a brutal race at high altitude. Yeah, she tosses her cookies. But to her, now, a fifty-mile race is a walk in the park. Looney Tunes had to start somewhere.
Women like Looney (she trained me to ride my bike in preparation for Kilimanjaro) are a constant reminder that you can think about it. Talk about it. Consider it.
Or you can put your damned shoes on and get out the door and get moving.
Not impossible at all.
It starts with a first step.