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.
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.