One foot in front of the other

23 01 2010

I’ve become such a lard ass.

It’s not (just) that my diet has gone to hell, but that I’ve basically stopped moving.

Oh, I get up to get my coffee and I walk to the train and I take the stairs, but beyond that and some basic weight-lifting, nada.

I’ve been physically active my entire life. The 1970s were a time of mothers shoving their kids out the door and saying ‘Go play!’, as in, Get out my hair for awhile.

The adults did what they had to do, and we did what we had to do—which involved a combination of innocent exploring and things best not revealed to the adults.

Both sides preferred it that way.

So we went off roaming around backyards and alleys and streets, racing our bikes and clambering up trees and over fences, and trying to scrape off any excess mud and blood before making our ways through the back doors at dinner- or bed-time.

We didn’t call it exercise, of course. We called it play.

I did start ‘exercising’, I guess, in high school, where I ran cross-country and track and played basketball, but even then, it more about ‘going out for sports.’

College was running and biking and ‘staying in shape.’

Only in grad school did I really start ‘exercising,’ as in, joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming laps, and running or biking in place.

It  was fine, really, especially once I fell into a routine: hit the gym in the late morning, then head over to the poli sci department for the rest of my day.

There was, of course, down time in grad school and after, but it was rare that exercise lapsed for more than half a year.

Until I moved to New York. I biked a lot my first summer here, but after that, not so much. There was also some running, but I never managed to keep at it long enough to stick. My job at the bookstore at least required that I move around a fair bit, and when working three jobs there was lots of veryfastwalking to and from the trains.

But it’s been awhile since I worked at the bookstore, and I spend a laaaaahhhhht of time online.

Hence: lard ass.

I’m not fat, although I have gained weight, but I don’t feel right. I’m used to feeling fit, that I can take care of myself, and lately I’ve just felt bogged down. I’ve also had a few issues with my gut, which was well-behaved before I, well, stopped moving.

As mentioned in early January, I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but it did occur to me that if I were dissatisfied with my degeneration into an indigestion-ridden blob, I might just consider doing something about it.

So many excuses not to: I can’t afford a gym. I need to find a job. I don’t have time. Later, I promise.

Well, I did find another job, and while I still can’t afford a gym, it’s not truly necessary. [*Update: There’s a gym in DT Brooklyn which is mighty cheap, so perhaps. . . .] Furthermore, instead of thinking I need to give 90 minutes every day over to sweating, maybe I could start small, by, say, walking. Briskly.

I do prefer to run, but starting a running routine from too far in out-of-shape-land is a recipe for failure. Nope, I need to trim myself up a bit, remind myself of what it’s like to propel myself along, and then, once it’s light enough long enough after work, I can start running or biking again. Hell, I’m less than a 15-minute walk to the southern end of Prospect Park, which is a lovely place in which to breathe deeply.

So, I’ve begun taking those walks. I’ll be working an office job M-F and teaching Th & F nights, but I figure I can simply get off the train at my usual transfer point and walk the remaining leg at least the nights I’m not teaching and, depending upon my mood, the trains, and the weather, perhaps even those nights as well. And then on the weekends, longer walks in the park.

If I manage to keep to the highly-manageable schedule of 5 days of walking a week, I figure I can graduate to running and biking by the time the light lasts into the night.

That’s the plan, at least.

I miss those days in which I didn’t even have to think about my body, when I could simply jump off the back stoop and tear off to the nearest trouble.

C’est la vie. My jumping and tearing off days may be over, but I can still move.

Oh yeah, for an old broad, I can still get around.


Running on empty

8 08 2009

Good lord, that was an awfully long 20 minute run.

Not long, as in Whoa! Did I smoke out the miles, but long as in Jesus Christ I’ve only been running for 5 minutes?! And I’ve got 15 more?!

It’s been, mmm, a year? since I’ve run longer than the block or so to catch the train. A year in which I’ve only fitfully lifted weights, biked almost not at all, and took to eating Doritos (Nacho Cheese) for dinner.


No, I’m not fat, but I’m also not fit. Unfit and unhappy about it. What to do, what to do. . . .

So I finally got off my out-of-shape ass and strapped on the sneaks and ran for 20 minutes.

It ain’t much, I know, but it’s gotta be do-able or I’m not going to, ah, do it. I’ll stick with this for a week or two, building minutes as my body adjusts, then trying that short route I’ve figured (through the bottom part of Prospect Park). I’ll stick with that for awhile—trying to cut time—before moving up to circling the Park.

The route through Prospect Park is nice: I don’t know how long it is, but it’s got hills and a decent shift in scenery, and long enough (esp. with the distance to my apt. added on) to make me not feel like a complete punk.

Like I am now.

Running on empty

26 08 2008

I went running yesterday, and, somehow, managed to go running today. Two days in a row after months of non-running—whoo-hooo!

I’m old and slow, and because I haven’t gotten off my fat ass for months, I can’t go very far. The only way I’m able to go running at all is to ignore myself, put on my shoes, and go. And then do it the next day, and the next day, and days and days after that.

Running isn’t hard, of course: there’s nothing technical about it, no particular skill to master. Sure, there are tactics and strategies and blah blah, but, really, for the amateur in reasonable shape, it’s a matter of putting on the shoes (and the sports bra! Don’t forget the sports bra!) and heading out the door. It’s not that expensive—a decent pair of shoes, a pair of running shorts with that nifty little key pocket (which reminds me: why don’t running TIGHTS have that nifty little key pocket? Do we somehow not need to lock our doors when the weather cools?), and, of course, the sports bra—and one doesn’t need a park or special track on which to run. I walk to corner, stretching my legs and warming up my ankles, then take off. A pitiably short time later, I’m home.

But, as with so many things, I find it so easy to get in my way. I ran cross-country in high school, and although its been over twenty years since I’ve run even semi-competitively, I still think that I’m doggin’ it. I was never fast or particularly talented, but I was never last, either. And even in the years when I didn’t run, I still thought of myself as a runner, if in abeyance. So I have this sense that I should run, and when I don’t, I think, christ, what a candy ass. And then when I do, and I can only manage a pitiably short distance, I think, christ, what a candy ass. Hence the need to ignore myself. . . .

My friend L.S has it harder. She was a championship biker, and raced competitively until recently. Then she had some injuries which kept her off her bike and, more seriously, surgery this past summer to repair vascular damage. She’s back on her bike already—she and her girlfriend just got back from a bike tour—which, given how much slicing and dicing was done to her body, astonishes me. And she knows that she should be pleased with her progress. But she’s not, not quite.

L.S was—is—physically talented. She competed in her first biathlon in college as a what-the-hell kind of gesture, and came in second in her age group. On hikes she was always in the lead. When four of us when hiking in the Tetons, L.S was up ahead, traversing the mountains like she was walking down the aisle at 7-Eleven, while the rest of us were HIKING, i.e., working. When it was just the two of us hiking, I always felt like I needed to keep my mouth shut about how hard I was working or proposing yet another break. And while sometimes she was impatient, she was usually pretty cool about having to wait.

But now, for the first time, someone had to wait for her. It threw her off. She has this sense of herself as the one-in-front, and to not be in front, well, what does that mean? There’s also the pleasure in speed. ‘I like to go fast’, she said, and she misses howling down the highway.

So, adjustments. We’re at the fulcrum of our lives, when the teeter begins to totter, and neither of us is very happy about it. But we also decided that this is not a tragedy. We can still find pleasure in our bodies, and, perhaps, in a few other things as well. As L.S put it (more or less), I’d like to find out what else I’ve got going on.