Before I ran, I walked

I’ve been sick for a few days–not well enough to run–and I’m restless.  As much as I sometimes hate to have to drag myself outside of the confines of my warm, cozy house, when I can’t run, I feel awful.  I feel lazy and guilty and restless.  I begin to imagine the feeling of running as being better than it actually is. I begin to believe that I could actually achieve my imagined running utopia. It looks like this:  perfect temperature of about 60 degrees, a light breeze that keeps me from sweating, legs that fly and always feel like I’m just at my first mile, perfect music showing up on my shuffle, breathing easy and rhythmic.


I’ve only been a “religious” runner for about 2 1/2 years.  Before that, I was a summer runner, spending my winters just doing indoor kinds of exercise.

But the path to running began about 8 years ago with one, then two neighbors, who would become two of my best friends.

It all started with a conversation.  My neighbor Sharon and her family had my family over one evening for a visit.  She commented that she needed to start doing “something.”  She felt like she was really out of shape.  I piped up that we should start walking together in the mornings.  To get ready for work and get kids off to school, that meant that we would have to walk at 5:30am.  When I realized this, I almost wished I had just kept my mouth shut, but not knowing Sharon very well, I felt bad to say, “Uh… I changed my mind.”

So there we were, bright and early the next morning, ready for our walk.  We moved quickly down the path that runs up to our neighborhood and then through the neighborhood down the big hill and all the way back–about 2 1/2 miles. And so it began that over our months of walking day after day, we would come to know all we could know about one another.  We also shared our first uncontrollable laugh when, in the dark of pre-dawn, Sharon stepped off the path and rolled down the hill into the trees. (Flashlights are for wimps.)

Later, our new neighbor Laurie would join us.  Thus, we two grew to three, sharing laughs, getting and giving advice, and walking our way to great friendships and better health. As a matter of fact, Sharon lost 17 lbs from our walking.

The key was our commitment.  That I knew my friends would be outside waiting for me forced me to pull myself out of bed every morning.  That I knew I could be left out of an important discussion, or miss out on getting something off of my chest or giving one of them my opinion (a favorite thing for me) was great motivation.  I rarely missed a morning (once the alarm was a problem).

As time went on, I started feeling like I needed more of a challenge.  Walking was getting too easy.  Sometimes, in addition to walking in the morning, I would go for a run after work.  Eventually, as we all found our own favorite ways to be fit, our morning walk club came to an end. Sharon still likes to walk, but also rides her stationary bike.  Laurie joined a gym.  I still do all the indoor exercise stuff, but mostly I run.

Walking gave us a path to feeling better than I ever remember feeling.  And now that the three of us are such good friends, we find other time to laugh, give and get advice, and every now and then, go for a walk.


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