The first real attempt at exercise after a long hiatus is always the toughest. This morning, I was reminded of that. Every single time I go months or years without running, I swear that it will be the last time I ever take such a long break. Running, after all, is an addictive mixture of pain and adrenaline; gasping and glory. Even if you take a few paces that feel like they must be your last, a few steps later you break through that brick wall and are flying high.
When I woke up this morning, the sky was clear and blue. The air outside was temperate. My GPS watch was charged and begging for action. There was no excuse: I needed to run. And for once I was feeling the motivation. I strapped on my heart rate monitor. I fastened my watch to my wrist. I donned my sweet Nike running shorts and Asics shoes with gel inserts. I was ready.
So was Riley, my dog. I strapped her into her little pink harness and brought her along.
We set out at an relaxed jog, Riley taking full advantage of the retractable lead to pause and sprinkle on every other driveway we passed. Five minutes went by in a breeze, feet bouncing easily off the pavement and air feeling abundant as I inhaled. Confident, I increased the pace. Then, things changed.
My heart rate monitor beeped at an alarming 180. To athletes, this would be no big deal; just a subtle reassurance that your body is doing what you should and that you’re getting exercise. But if you’ve been sedentary for a while, your heart reaching 180 beats per minute is a sign that something is seriously wrong. It is a reason to panic. My brain tried to convince my panicking senses that the world wasn’t ending. Slowing my pace a notch, I continued to run. With my brand-new trusty GPS watch, I plotted out a great loop. Only moderately hilly, this loop circles around my house and is exactly 1.23 miles long. Perfect for a beginner who doesn’t want to venture too far from home.
Well, after 32 minutes I’d run two laps, two and a half miles and had spent seven minutes doing intervals: one minute running, one minute jogging. My legs were cramping and my back felt sore. But at the same time, it felt amazing. And I know that the next time won’t hurt as badly, and I’ll be able to go just a little bit longer or a little bit faster. That’s all the motivation I need to get back out there tomorrow morning before work. That, and feeling just a little bit more fit ever since I did the run.
Yep, I just threw that out there onto the Internet to live forever. Tomorrow morning, a pre-work run. Maybe since I made it public, I’ll actually follow through with it!