I Slide Down a Slippery Slope

starting out; warming up

starting out; warming up

I run for exercise. More accurately, I quick-shuffle. On a good day, I scuttle along quite nicely.

I began running at twenty-six, and, over the years, I’ve been teased about my persistence. A brother told me he’d read an article about the impact of cardio exercise on longevity: consistent exercisers lived only a few months longer than non-exercisers. With ill-concealed glee, he concluded: “You drip sweat and jar your joints in order to live 88 years and 9 months instead of 88 years and 7 months? Wow, Janet.”

Even my dad piled on, telling me he never saw runners with smiles on their faces and asking why they looked so grim. “Well, Dad, they’re concentrating on how to avoid the old guy in the careening pickup who seems oblivious to traffic regulations and lane stripes.”

I love my family, but sometimes they try my patience.

When I turned sixty-three, my legs began to ache and my energy had taken a vacation. Rather than grinding to a total stop, I decided to alternate equal intervals of walking and running.

almost home

almost home

Gradually, I began walking more than running, and by the time I turned sixty-five, my exercise consisted of walking while talking myself out of running.

Then, in a moment of self-honesty, I realized I had reached the bottom of a slippery slope for aging runners. By slowing to a walk at times, I had made it easy to walk all the time. I wondered whether I could start back up the greased incline. I had loved running; and physical therapy and daily stretching had cured the sciatica that made me ache. I decided to see if I could reverse the process.

Two summers ago, I began to run more than I walked. By the time winter shut down my rejuvenation operation, I had begun to run the entire distance. I have continued to do so since, both outdoors and indoors on a treadmill.

I exercise not for longevity, but because I enjoy its day-to-day benefits—increased energy, sound sleep, no dieting, and good over-all health.

And now I have the joy of running, well, shuffling, again.

Please leave a comment below.

 

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22 thoughts on “I Slide Down a Slippery Slope

      • As long as you are able to run, keep running, I’d say. Your body will probably let you know if it is too much. My mother, who is 78, enjoys cycling. People tell her she is crazy, but cycling is easier than walking or driving her car, whenever she needs to go somewhere.

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  1. Your mom sounds like a young 78, Paulina, and I agree that if we listen to our bodies, we’ll know how to treat them. When I gradually quit running, I was looking at how old I was and not sensing what my body wanted.

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  2. Haha! ( that’s a triumphant “haha!”) I loved reading this! You look phenomenal, by the way. At the wobbly middle age of 43 I have just taken up running/walking/shuffling 🙂 and I love it! I have wondered how long I can keep this going and how people stop being able to do hints as they age. The spectacular Ernestine Shepard is part of my motivation or inspiration. And this little song is keeping me feeling happy about the years to come…
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O4QzHeUE-CM&feature=youtu.be

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    • I’m glad you understand my enjoyment of running, Christina. I intend to do it as long as possible. And thank you for an enjoyable 10 minutes: I googled Ernestine Shepard and was amazed by her discipline and the results she has achieved. And then I brought up the youtube song about older ladies and laughed aloud. I intend to share it with my friends, and I recommend it to my blog readers.

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  3. Wowser Janet- Good on ya for running, something I could never abide, memories again of Mrs Cox sending us out running in the rain as she followed behind in her car. I am a water-rat, love to swim, easy on the ratty joints, always warm. Lovely post as always, jog on in happiness.

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    • I wish I could swim well enough to get a workout, because I know it is kind to joints, but I flail away and go nowhere. I always thought when I retired I’d spend some time in a pool and increase my skill level, but then I discovered this blogging thing. How is your book coming along?

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  4. Hello Janet- Up here we have Aqua Fit Class, deep and shallow for all levels of comfort in water, stretching and movement, very popular with our age women..this blogging is a sweet distraction I agree, Waltbox nominated Godfrey for a Liebster award, combined with working full time keeps me busy, hope to see the first Book Of Wisdom’s this fall. I’ll let you know- jog on from Sheila

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    • In my little town, they call it water aerobics and I did it for a couple of years, but it was taught at noon and I tired of waiting that long to be able to exercise. I like working out early in the morning so no matter how snarled the rest of the day becomes, I know I accomplished something good for myself early on. Congratulations on your Liebster award, Sheila.

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    • Do you curse as creatively as our father did? I’m so glad you commented; must mean you’ve grown comfortable with your new computer. I loved your email about the Father’s Day blog, but was traveling and unable to respond until now. Your kind words mean so much, Lawrence. I guess I’m still your little sister, wanting the approval of her big brother.

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  5. I enjoyed your metaphor of a bird teetering, perhaps because that’s how I feel on some mornings as I start out, but that soon vanishes and i begin to feel more like a determined elephant on the move. I hope you keep walking fast and visiting my blog,

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  6. I admire anyone who runs. Running is exhilarating and it’s the only exercise that really gets my heart going. However, having had two knee surgeries in recent years, I fear that my running/jogging days are over. Most mornings I take my dog for a brisk walk, and that helps to keep me in shape for the activities I enjoy—hiking, swimming, etc.
    Thanks for the reminder that what matters is not necessarily the years in your life, but the life in your years!

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  7. I understand the knee issues, and the day may come when I slow to a walk again, but in the meantime, I’ll keep reminding myself of the truth of your last sentence. Thanks for commenting.

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