I should maybe start by confessing that I hate exercise. I have tried, and failed, at so many forms of exercise that I consider this an established fact. I’ve even had a full-fledged panic attack just entering a gym. (I have issues). Oh, I’m happy to hike, cycle, ski or paddle… if I’m going somewhere, it’s outside in the sun and nobody calls it exercise. But as soon as it’s indoors, too cold, too dark, or has no purpose except fitness, count me out.
Only… I have 3 different doctors telling me if I want to get better, I need to exercise.
So a few weeks ago, I found myself cautiously entering the Running Room for day one of their “Learn to Run” program. As I told them, “it’s just that I hate gyms more than I hate running, so I thought I’d start here.”
Now, there’s motivation.
But my attitude was reflected in the other 5 ladies taking the course – we all looked like deer in headlights, convinced we were going to fail before we even started. Apparently that’s normal, since the entire “teaching” section of day one could be summed up in this: “you’re going to be okay.”
With a gentle approach, permission to go slow, cautions against pushing ourselves and completely foreign approach of “run happy” (instead of “suffer for the greater good”) I found… I liked running.
I stuck to their schedule, doing more walking than running, every other day for the first week. It felt good. I liked myself, out there, doing this. I wanted more. So the next week, I told my instructor how much I was enjoying running and asked if there was a program I should follow if I was ready to take on more.
He stopped me in my tracks.
Every other day, he told me. No more. Do not run more than that! You will get injured if you don’t start slow.
Ummm… did I hear right? Have I ever heard an enthusiast in any form of fitness limit workouts? The last program I was encouraged to join had morning and evening workouts! Yes, they pay lip service to “rest days” but by that they mean one day a week where you do a different kind of workout, not where you actually rest. What’s this about not being allowed?
He had an explanation about muscle repair and bone density, which I didn’t hear much of because I was still stuck on this not allowed to run more business.
So I am sticking to the plan: this week I’m running slightly more than I’m walking. I’m going a bit farther. And only 3x a week.
And you know what? I can’t wait for the days I’m allowed to run! I often go for a bike ride or walking other days, but my favourite days are my running days.
The limitation has translated into anticipation.
It’s made me think about other things. What if workplaces didn’t allow you to work overtime, answer emails, pick up the phone or come in on the weekend. Would we then be excited about Mondays?
What if one day a week you weren’t allowed to cook or clean… would that make meal planning that much more enjoyable?
What if we had a day off from all our normals, and that limitation actually became something to anticipate? What if we called it… I don’t know… Sabbath?
I know, I know. It’s not the same. I can choose not to cook or clean, but the dishes pile up and we’ve still got to eat. It wouldn’t be super restful, and I’d probably dread the day after instead of getting excited to clean again.
But I’m hung up on this idea, and as I’m in this season of learning to Sabbath, it’s on my list to figure out. How do stay-at-home moms “Sabbath”? How business owners leave it all behind one day a week? How do caregivers, police officers, ER doctors and other non-9-5-ers work that out? What does it look like?
Because learning to run has taught me that you take those rests not just to recover from the exhaustion the week has brought you, but also because it energizes you for the next day. What used to be a dreaded chore becomes a privilege.
I can’t imagine housework being a privilege, but then again, no one would have suspected I’d enjoy running either, so you never know. Miracles could happen.