I’m not sure if it’s possible to become athletic at 24 years old, but I’ve decided that I’m going to try.
I’m 5’3 and about 98 pounds. I’m not terribly concerned about getting in shape for aesthetic reasons (although truthfully, I would mind a little more muscle tone). But I am convinced that my metabolism is going to taper off at some point, and I’ll regret it if I’m not already exercising when that happens. Plus I’m something of a hypochondriac, so I think getting in shape will make me feel better about myself and will cut down on the number of ailments I convince myself that I have.
I’ve been toying with these thoughts for at least a year now, but I haven’t done much about it. Last summer my roommate Lydia and I decided to walk in the mornings before work, but I don’t think that lasted a week before we decided sleep is better than sweat.
So this weekend I took a big step: I decided to become a runner.
Now I haven’t always been completely sedentary. I rode my bike all over my neighborhood as a child, and I was on the dance and cheer squads in high school. I love canoeing and kayaking, although I don’t often have the opportunity to go.
But I have always, always hated running.
I’ve decided to work on that because running just makes the most sense right now. I’m a commuter, with a 120-mile round trip drive to and from work. I don’t have much time to go to a gym, and I really can’t afford it anyway.
So even though I would really prefer a dance class or yoga or something involving air conditioning, I decided to suck it up and buy my first pair of running shoes. They were much cheaper than a gym membership, and I figured that if I don’t follow through, I just won’t buy another pair ever again.
I left the store at about 2 p.m. Saturday after jogging in place, testing probably 10 different pairs of shoes. (My friend Adriene kept me company and encouraged me via text message. It was very difficult to surround myself with shoes and not pick out a pair of heels.)
The gray and purple Nikes I selected are about as cute as running shoes can be, though, and I had to talk myself out of taking them on a test run during the hottest part of the day. The next morning I quickly realized why that was a good move.
I am such a wimp. I went a mile that morning, running maybe 2/5 of it and walking the rest. Even that little bit was too much for me; I had to take a break sitting on the curb, and I nearly puked at one point.
Today I altered my approach, using a schedule that had been recommended to Adriene when she started running. I walked 10 minutes to warm up, then ran one minute. After a five minute walking break, I ran another minute, then cooled down with the 10 minute walk back home. Each week I’m supposed to add a minute to my running time, then start deducting walking time until I’m running continuously.
Today still did not feel good – I’ve got to work on my breathing. But it was an improvement over yesterday. And if I keep my eyes on my pretty gray and purple sneakers, they give me a small thrill of enthusiasm as my feet carry me home.