I ran yesterday, far. I did about 10 miles (I am erring on the side of accomplishment, despite what the GPS said, 9.67 my fanny) in 93 minutes. Not quite on track for a 2 hour half marathon, but better than previous attempts.
It is my plan to run a half on May 1 (guess I should sign up for that) and the half at the Manitoba Marathon in June. After that, I think I may retire from long distance running. I am worried about my joints, and since vanity is my main motivator, I keep thinking how wide my butt would become if my knees got bad enough to need replacing. I also think there’s a bit of a moral imperative at work… if I applaud the local family physician who won’t treat patients who continue to smoke, should I really be doing what amounts to smoking in terms my knees can relate to?
I realize there are people who run iron man marathons and three or four or more a year, but my assumption is that they have always done these things, and that, especially during their Formative Years, they continued. I, on the other hand, failed Grade 9 phys ed class, because I was lazy and had a bad attitude. I never stepped off the couch from age 9 to age 18, and it was only by the grace of good genetics that I managed to keep from tripling my weight. I started running because I thought it would be a good stress buster, and because at age 19 or 20, my cholesterol level became clinically elevated. Not good.
Today, after my 10 miles, I am sore. My muscles ache. That, actually, feels kind of good to me. Everytime I go up or down the stairs, I am reminded of my accomplishment (10 miles in 93 minutes). I like the feeling of knowing I did something good for myself (mentally and physically). I figure things out when I run. Yesterday, around mile 6 or 7, I realized that I am grateful that I can run. My body works, painlessly. I have the joints and the cardiovascular health. I am educated and I can afford good running shoes. I have people I can leave my kids with. I can read, so I know how to train and what to eat and how much water to drink. I have the money for race entry fees. I have the self-esteem to be motivated by how good it feels to have accomplished a run like that. I know how good it is for me and I understand the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. It takes a lot of factors to come together for a 10 mile run to be possible. I am lucky, or blessed, or something.
It’s the crunching joints and the ache in my bones when I am still that worries me a bit (I can feel my femurs remodelling themselves along stress lines today). Those are the reasons I will cut down on miles per week. What I need to do is figure out how I will get my exercise. I imagine 2 or 3 three-milers a week, with an occasional 10km road race just for fun. I am thinking of learning to swim properly and trying a mini triathlon. I am thinking of the MS Bike tour which is a 2 day cycling fundraiser. But I have also thought of a cycling tour of, say, France, or Scotland. Sounds like a good way to try deep-fried Mars Bars without adding extra weight to the return flight. I am also thinking of climbing things, sailing, kayaking…. hmmm… the possibilities are endless. As long as I don’t get sucked back onto the couch.
I am pretty sure that sedentariness is no longer an optional lifestyle for me, though. I do not feel well if I don’t manage to get some sort of strenuous activity into my week at least four or five times. It’s a matter of lifestyle choices. We have been wall climbing as a family two weeks in a row now and have the wall booked again this week. I am thrilled that the kids will be old enough to go for family bike rides this year (new bikes for them on Saturday). It’s a matter of establishing priorities, and making healthy choices. I bite back my comments when people grumble that they have no time for exercise. I have a full-time job, a 1 hour commute, a husband (supportive, granted) and two kids. I trained for a half marathon when I was finishing my degree. You can always work something in. It’s a matter of choice.
Anything is better than nothing. And, I think, it’s a matter of taking responsibility for your own health. Which brings me back to the ethics and responsibility of running my joints into early retirement (sometimes I wonder if pounding away for an hour or two is any less bad for me than, say, a big greasy burger or a cigarette, only in a different way). However, I have my heart set on a 2-hour half marathon, so then I will give my knees a rest. I promise, knees. In June.