Sunday, February 20, 2011

Because I can

I was halfway through a planned 1.25-mile easy treadmill run this morning. Pandora's Classic Rock station was blaring from my smartphone, and if I recall correctly T. Rex was banging a gong. I was going pretty slow, trying to ignore that weird off-and-on pain in my left knee and the persistent ache in my right foot and the fact that gravity was pressing down unusually hard and it felt like I was running through oatmeal, when suddenly it happened.

First the aches and pains just disappeared, like someone had injected me with the most wondrous fast-acting painkiller known to mankind.

Then the oatmeal melted away, and gravity lifted its curse.

My breathing was completely in sync with the motion of my legs as they carried me forward effortlessly, and I felt -- no, I KNEW -- that I could run forever and ever if I wanted to.

I was flooded with euphoria.

Runner's high! Score!

If you had told me a few years ago that someday I'd call myself a runner, that I would enjoy running, that I would WANT to run, I would have laughed in your face. I hated the running we had to do in gym class when I was in school. It hurt. I was slow. I didn't see the point. Getting from there to here was a loooooong journey (you can read about it over here, if you're so inclined).

All I can tell you is, now that I've got it, I want to keep it. Running has done amazing things for me. It's the best way I've found to manage stress. I'm on a much more even keel emotionally (all month long, ifyouknowwhatImean). I'm sleeping better at night and feeling less fatigued during the day. My blood pressure, which had started creeping up a bit over the past few years, has settled back down to where it was 15 years ago. My cholesterol numbers are fantastic. And perhaps most telling, for me -- the heart murmur (mitral valve prolapse) I've had all my life, which in the past has allowed blood to regurgitate between two chambers in my heart, thus greatly increasing my risk of endocarditis, no longer does that. I still have the murmur and always will unless I get the valve replaced, but I no longer have regurgitation through the valve. Which means my risk of endocarditis has dropped significantly. That right there is what you call life-changing. Or life-extending, anyway.

Of course, I don't know for sure that running caused all these changes, but it's pretty obvious it hasn't HURT. And it's not like I'm an elite runner with 1% body fat who runs ultramarathons every weekend. I've been running an average of maybe 4 to 7 miles a week for the past year. And I run them SLOWLY. Like, really slowly. You could probably walk faster than I run.

There was a marathon here in Austin today. Do I wish I had been out there running it? Nope. Hello, those things are 26.2 miles long! That is a LOT of running to do all at once, and I have no plans to join those ranks anytime soon (someday, maybe ... but not soon). I absolutely applaud everyone who did run it, and I hope they all had a fantastic time and achieved their goals.

Me? I'm happy with my 1.25-mile slow treadmill run. I hit my runner's high and finished exhausted and happy, and every time that happens it reminds me of the real reason I do it.

Because I love it. Oh, I do. I really really do.


  1. You are so cool! I am having a knee replacement in April and I can't wait to be able to exercise again. Just walking in the cold this morning was fantastic, even if I am paying for it tonight.

  2. I went back and read your old post and this is all so timely for me. For the last month I have been walking for 45 minutes each day and longer on the weekends. By now I expected to be feeling a bit fitter but I still wind up piffled and red faced. But for the same reasons you listed in the old post I am determined to keep going. On Saturday I introduced a tiny bit of running.. Thought I was going to die..but you have written the very post I needed to be reading right now!

  3. Bravo you. I'm still back with your high school self saying running is stupid (for me - obvs not for people who love it) but I get my endorphins from dancing.

  4. Ahhh, I kow exactly what you felt and how you feel now. For me it's the gym instead of running but the feeling is exactly the same. This morning we did fit boxe and THAT is when my adrenaline sky rockets through the roof and I could go on for ever.
    Isn't it a grand feeling? Ask Kim ... or Fabio who actually was running a winter half marathon on the snow yesterday ...

  5. That is super fantastic. And very inspiring to a non-runner type like me!

  6. Awesome. I have never liked to run and I would still rather walk 4 miles than run 1 mile.

  7. I understand completely and totally. I started running less than a year ago and nearly cried the day I finally hit the one mile mark. Even now, when I've run three, four, or five miles, I'm blown away by what the human body can do in spite of the odds (in my case, being really overweight).

    Yay you!


    I once ran a 1/2 marathon, many moons ago, and would, someday, like to run again.

  9. :). "The Courage To Start" by John Bingham. You ARE a runner!