Why I Run
My Latest Obsession
My shoulder hurt too much for Downward Dog. Yoga had been my obsession for the last decade. Child’s Pose had been my refuge when I needed to cry at all the indignities of mid-life: career let-down, the appearance of jowls (jowls?!), the death of my mother, and the growing up of my children. Hand Stand had been my adrenaline rush, which I still hadn’t fully mastered. (Do we ever fully master anything?) I had pretty much let go of other activities and thrown myself into yoga, well at least as much as I could with a family and a full time job plus commute to Manhattan. I got certified to teach and continue to teach one class a week to appreciative middle-aged women, like me.
When it became apparent that I really had an injury – Degenerative Labrum Tear (ahem…aging) and Frozen Shoulder – and needed to practice yoga in a much reduced and more limited way, I wondered what I could do instead? I had run a little bit throughout my life but it was never a passion. I admired others who ran but never seemed to be able to achieve more than 3 miles and was certainly never happy when running.
I started walking. I would walk to Pilates class and back. (About 2 miles round trip). It was January 2018, and I would bundle up. Around March, I wondered if I could run. I ran a block. Literally. One block. Shocked at the huffing and puffing, I decided that no, I couldn’t run. The challenge remained, and so it went for the next 6 months. I added distance to my walks and lengthened the amount of time that I ran. When I did too much, my body let me know and I would have to take a break – never running two days in a row. By the end of last August, I was able to run 3 miles without walking. So, I entered my first 5K race in September. Why not?
My 22-year-old daughter was home at the time and decided to run with me. I told her I was very slow. “Oh Mom, that’s okay. I will stay with you.” We’ll see…I thought. The gun went off and everyone dashed ahead. After all, it was a race! I was left in the dust plodding in the back. My daughter tried to stay with me, but I shooed her ahead. I really didn’t need company for this torture. I thought I was going to die. At about the one-mile mark, the leaders were on their way back to win. I just kept plodding. My goal was to finish. At the two-mile mark, I started passing the walkers. When I saw the finish line, my daughter was cheering. I poured it on, (what was available to pour on) and – sort of – sprinted across the finish line. Under 40 minutes (woo hoo!) and not the last in my age group. Success! I was hooked.
Last Fall, I went for a physical. I hadn’t had one in about five years and was expecting a clean bill of health. Surprisingly to me, my cholesterol was high at 251. She told me to exercise more. Exercise more?! My husband, my friends, and I all laughed. How could I do more than I was doing? Well, Game On. I joined a cheap gym and started adding weight training. (My PT had told me that my upper body was weak, which was why I had the shoulder injury.) I kept up my 3-mile runs through the Winter and ran a second 5K in April, shaving 3 minutes from my time and no longer feeling like I was going to die.
It was like a new relationship. Completely infatuated with the endorphins, my mind wanted to run more than my body could handle. I still find I can’t run two days in a row. So cross-training it is. Weights, Pilates, and yes, Yoga. My shoulder is healed. (P.S. I love yoga after running – it gets everything stretched out.)
I joined a running club in May and started going to weekly running clinics with interval training. It has made a big difference! The camaraderie of other people, the discipline to incorporate speedwork, the chance to run new routes and the inspiration to try longer distances. I’m up to a solid four miles 3x/week and my goal is a 10K this Fall. Plus, I’ll go for my annual physical in October and see what I hope will be a drop in my cholesterol. I’ll keep you posted about that.