I had an occasion to run to run a few weeks back. It has bothered me ever since.
I had left for lunch early, or I wouldn’t have been in that exact spot to witness that exact accident. I heard it before I saw it, and then I took off running toward it, cell phone in one hand, purse swinging wildly, yelling to whoever might hear to “call 911” while I was attempting it, too, on my dying phone.
The accident was a good one hundred yards or more away. I was doing that adrenaline thing, but even so, it came to me that I didn’t think I could actually do it.
Run, I mean. It seemed I had forgotten how.
It was as if my entire body had never run before, not my feet, not my legs and certainly not my lungs. I am pretty sure I looked like a Kabuki dancer, but without the grace and the white make-up.
A few more steps and it began to come back to me, slowly, and I managed to get all my parts moving in the same direction. I did this for few yards, still dialing, still yelling. But I just couldn’t keep it up, couldn’t keep running and speak to the dispatcher, couldn’t get there any faster, couldn’t believe how impotent I felt, because I couldn’t run.
I used to run. Never enjoyed it, but I could do it, especially if a game was involved, like tennis. In college I managed to get up to the requisite two miles of jogging, but after I ran two and a half miles, and only once, on the concourse of Diddle Arena, I decided I had conquered that sport and was ready for new horizons and so I hung up my Adidas for good.
Now I am wondering if I could–safely–get back to running a mile. That’s all, just a mile. Is that possible? It seems that it would be a good thing to be able to run at least that far, to respond to trouble, to save yourself.
Not that I might be required to run a solid mile, but if I could run a mile, then clicking off a hundred yards to escape a swarm of bees, say, should be a cinch. I asked a colleague about this, one who runs. She is younger than I, and I am now sufficiently old that I don’t even mind if she thinks it’s the stupidest question she’s been asked all day.
She said, yes, of course, I can. Start slow. Start smart, but start. She even recommended the running program called “Couch to 5K”, and all you have to do is google it. It’s genius, really. The program, which is geared to take you from..ahem…,the couch to running a 5K race, takes you through a series of walking/running segments.
It seems so sensible. Walk for five minutes to warm up, jog for 60 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, and alternate this for a total of 20 minutes. If you think about it, this is what we would do anyway, when we get all hyper-excited about undoing years of sloth with an unrealistic goal of running a mini-marathon six weeks from now.
We warm up, take off like a puma, only to stop about a minute later, holding our sides and all doubled up, gasp and spit for a couple of minutes before we try it again.
This program builds that right into the plan, but without the shame.
I think I can do this.
I will confess, though, it scares me a little. I managed to try this scheme only once, and that was at night, because I didn’t want anyone to see me. So, please don’t mention that I have told you.
I am thinking on it, though, you all. I found a picture on Facebook of a friend who runs…she is finishing a race and she just looks so healthy and fit and cool that I wanted to be her. Okay, a much older version of her, but still.
I might could do it. Run a mile. If I ease up on it, after I ease off the couch.