Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fitness File: Perspective

Yes, it's been a while since I wrote about fitness. Truth be told, I've been rather fickle about my fitness routine over the past several months and didn't think it worth documenting my slovenly downward spiral. But, as of late, I'm back on the horse (again), so I thought I'd share the latest in my fitness musings.

I'm back to running, but I need to make time to do it more frequently. Right now, I'm only fitting in 1-2 runs a week, and that's just not enough to convince my body this is going to be a regularly occurring thing, so I'm going to try to go at least 3 times a week going forward. It's just been kind of difficult because I struggle so much with my breathing.

I brought my breathing problem up to my doctor at my recent annual check-up. The problem: after about a mile, I get severe side stitches and have so much trouble getting enough air, I feel like I'm drowning. Every time, it literally feels like a miracle that I'm able to go an additional mile before stopping. The doctor had me take a breathing test and concluded that I have exercise-induced asthma. I kind of suspected, but, of course, my husband thinks I'm just a hypochondriac. Half the time he's right, so who knows. I've got a prescription for an inhalant now and will see if it helps at all.
I've also been trying to cut myself some slack and put things in perspective. I may not be marathon-ready (or even 5k-ready, at this point, to be honest), I could probably never withstand the 'bootcamp' exercise classes some brave folks I know endure, and I might be pretty inconsistent with my exercise routine, but I'm making sincere efforts and it does feel good when I do get out there (well, after I stop really, but you know what I mean). It's all in your perspective, and a couple of encounters I had while out running recently gave me even more of that.

Earlier this month, I was on the last leg of my run (you know, the part where I feel like I'm drowning but still throwing one sneakered foot in front of the other nevertheless) and feeling pretty crappy about still not being in better form, when I turned a corner and came upon a woman walking briskly on the sidewalk ahead of me. She looked pretty old, was wearing long pants and a sweater on a warm day, . . . and had clearly suffered a stroke in the past. One entire side of her body was almost wet-noodle limp, . . . yet she was keeping a pretty decent clip.

Then, after a run last week, I was cooling down and walking home when a man in his fifties sidled up next to me to introduce himself as a neighbor from across the cul-de-sac community walkway. He told me he exercises twice a day . . . and that he's had 10 strokes. This was evident from his speech and the fact that he was steering his mobility scooter awkwardly with one arm. We chatted briefly and then parted ways as our paths diverged.

Dude, if these folks can get out there and exercise regularly, there is absolutely zero excuse for me not to. The measure of success need not be in mileage or minutes. The fact that we're out there at all and doing something positive for our health should be incentive and reward enough. It's not always easy to remember or internalize that, but I'm going to try a little harder to do just that.

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