My Triumphant Return to Running

The x-ray, while boggling, was clear: there was no longer any evidence of spondylolisthesis. The condition that prompted my chiropractor to exhort me three years ago to “unlove” my new running hobby had corrected itself — due, presumably, to me strengthening my core and losing some 20 pounds.

So, shortly thereafter, when I found myself with no fitness class scheduled for the first Monday of the year, I decided that would be the day.

As the day approached, I checked the weather and discovered that the unseasonably warm temperatures had suddenly expired, and that my run would be in the upper 20’s — with no precipitation, at least. With plenty of time to spare, I hit up Amazon for some new fleece-lined running tights and a new armband for my iPhone 6. It had been two iPhones and 20 pounds since I’d gone running, so I had to gear up.

My poor old beat-up Asics weren’t going to be up to the challenge, so I went to runnersworld.com and found some shoe options, then fired up the Zappos app and ordered myself a new pair of pink Newtons. (I’ll still need to keep the Asics around for cross-training, as the design of the Newton is not conducive to non-running exercise.)

newton fates

The night before, I assembled all my cold-weather running gear and tried to stop being so excited for such a trivial thing as going on a run — a run/walk, technically, since I knew I’d be taking it easy and doing a one-minute run/one-minute walk ratio. I made sure to re-download the Runkeeper app to my phone and set it to cue me every minute, and I confirmed how to get to the Running feature in Spotify.

The morning of, I Googled proper running form and was reminded to swing my arms forward and back (not cross-body), to take shortish strides that result in my foot landing just below my knee, to relax my shoulders, and to stand up straight.

Finally, it was time.

I headed down to the fitness center with all my gear, suited up, and headed out.

It was glorious.

The clouds were thick and gray, with the sun peeking through every now and then, silhouetting the suspension bridge and throwing sparkles on the river. The air was crisp, but not painfully so. My body seemed to remember how this was supposed to work, and I was very Zen about my enforced intervals. I knew that, even though I was physically able to run farther and longer than just a single minute, I needed to hold back this first time out. I hadn’t run for some three years, after all. Take it easy.

I smiled nearly the entire run. Who knew something so simple as going on a short winter run could be so gloriously invigorating?

(Runners know, I suppose.)

Spotify was throwing me great tunes by the Afghan Whigs, the Police, Morrissey, and the occasional Kenny Rogers (yeah, I have a playlist of 80’s Country. It’s a guilty pleasure that reminds me of childhood).

I felt positively fantastic. I was beaming as I came back inside and took a super-happy selfie before I showered and dressed for work.

so happy to be running again!

I was sore in new and different places for a few days, but not too much. Just that gentle reminder that I did something a little out of my comfort zone as of late.

I didn’t get out for my second run until today, over two weeks later.

I’d planned for a once-a-week interval run (that sounds better than a run/walk), but last week on my chosen run day, the sidewalks were snowy and sloppy and icy in places, so I decided to pass and take a kickboxing class, instead.

Today’s run (at 2:1 intervals instead of 1:1) was also awesome, but not quite as exhilarating as the first — Spotify clocked me at 155 bpm instead of 160, so my run felt a little extra plodding, and I didn’t think I could change my bpm midstream. Plus, Spotify was throwing me too much country, and the wind and snow picked up halfway through, and my phone battery didn’t like the 20-degree temps and died two minutes from the end of my run, while I was trying to record my heart rate — but it was still great to just be out there, breathing the fresh air, listening to great tunes (punk, Bowie, and early R.E.M. this time around) on my new bluetooth headphones.

As of today, I’m not interested in training for an event — not even a 5K. I just want some solitary time in the outdoors, appreciating what my body is capable of doing at age 39 (and was incapable of in my 20’s without sucking wind in a big way).

It feels so good to be healthy.

2012 vs. 2016

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