I recently decided to take up jogging. The thing is, I don’t like jogging. My joints don’t respond well, I have zero cardio ability, and shin splints abound. So why do it, you ask?
I’m also asking that question. My butt is resoundingly happier when firmly seated on the couch, but even it knows that exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. I have hundreds of reasons to run, and only a few not too, and yet the neighs have been winning for too long.
I did cross-country running in elementary school, and some sprinting in track and field, but jogging is not something that comes naturally to my bloodline. I’ve always been happier running with a purpose; whether running from someone (say a game of tag) or running towards something (like a basketball net). Now, I am trying to run for the sake of running. It seems futile.
I’ve read exercise such as walking or jogging during an intense work day produces all kinds of benefits in terms of concentration and retention of information. when I was faced with a completely blank page upon which no words seemed to stick, I thought I’d run. As I stood up, however, I was able to dismiss that thought. Instead, I used my forward momentum to grab a snack before sitting back down to stare at the blinking cursor.
After my first failed attempt at running, I knew I’d need a goal. A friend suggested I join her for a fun five-kilometre mud run in September. I tried to persuade myself it was my kind of thing. I do love challenging myself with feats of strength. But it was hard to get excited with the words ‘five kilometre run’ in the same sentence, even if it included ‘fun.’ Once I committed to participating, it quickly became sufficient motivation for me to see if I could do one kilometre, let alone five.
I would hit the trails and attempt two kilometres.
And so it started. It took me longer to locate and put on my running gear than to actually complete my first outing. I also quickly realized trail running was out of the question as the mosquito bite to 100 metres run ratio was disproportionately in favour of the bloodsuckers. Instead I pounded the pavement and found myself cramping up, red-faced, and panting before I reached my turnaround point. But, I did it.
To be clear, I didn’t enjoy the run. I didn’t enjoy the lengthy cool-down where I tried to get my heart rate back to normal and lose my cherry tomato coloured face. I didn’t enjoy being all sweaty and not able to simply plop down on the couch for fear of drenching it and not having anywhere to sit later to work.
It wasn’t until I’d had a glass of water and had showered that I felt better about the run. Suddenly, it occurred to me that even if I got nothing else done that day -I had done a two-kilometre jog. That was a good feeling, but I’d need to find ways to make this more fun if there were to be many more ‘next times.’
I did the Miracle Mile Colour Dash at Rotaryfest. That was a great time, but I don’t think I’ll be able to convince neighbours along my route to anticipate my arrival with coloured cornstarch. Instead I’ve tried jogging with music, with my kids, and with both to make it more enjoyable.
A month later, I’m now up to four kilometres, but I have yet to see any consistency emerge in my ability. There are days where I feel like Bruce Springsteen’s song “Born to Run” and other days I’m just Weird Al Yankovic’s “Eat it.”
I’m hoping that if I keep this up I’ll experience the runner’s high I keep reading about, but I’m guessing I’m not running near far enough to achieve a pleasurable feeling while jogging.
While I may not enjoy the jog itself, I am taking great pride in the accomplishment. Strangely, that’s been enough to get me to do it again and again.