Running, Part 1

One of the things that they tell you is good for exercise motivation is to find a buddy to exercise with, rather than trying to go it alone. Well, that’s all well and good if you happen to know a lot of people, because you’ll need to find someone who has a work schedule that is similar to yours so you can team up. And you need to find someone local enough that neither you nor your buddy need to drive far in order to meet up. A neighbor would be best, but not all of us have neighbors we want to spend time with. And if you’re a loner or new in town, you may just be out of luck.

So last year I decided that my personal efforts to get away from my computer and TV were not working. There is simply too much work to be done at the computer, especially when I am taking classes, and the sofa has a gravity well so intense that NASA would be interested in studying it. I wanted to find some fitness classes or something else that could keep my interest and get me out of the house. The formality of a class or program is often helpful to me in setting my personal goals.

Initially, I thought karate or some other martial arts class would be a good choice. A coworker had once told me that karate was a great exercise. Yeah, I could afford to lose a few pounds. I also thought it would be good for my self-esteem and bad for potential muggers. So I looked for classes in my area, but most only offered after-school programs for children. Being beaten up by an eight-year-old is not okay, so I kept looking.

Another martial arts school offered so much I wasn’t sure they knew what they wanted to teach, and on top of it, their web site gave me the creeps. I can’t explain it; but I felt weird looking at their site. I figured if a page on the computer screen made me that uncomfortable, then I certainly would be no better off if I showed up at the school.

A couple of other schools sounded good (and didn’t creep me out), but they would be at least a half-hour or 45-minute drive from home, one-way. Open-ended commitments to driving long distances are not my forte. I’ll gladly drive across country but I hate commuting. I’ve given up on a lot of different things because I eventually just got tired of the traffic: horseback riding and yoga are just two of the casualties of the bumper wars.

I did quite a bit of reading on one karate school’s web site, and tangentally I found a running group that had a beginner’s program. This sounded good — it was something I could do, and it was quite affordable and had no long-term commitments. Unfortunately, I would have to do some serious driving to get to the track where the beginner’s program was being held, but I thought I could probably deal with that for a couple of months for the duration of the program. Then I could run somewhere else.

As with any new pursuit, I’m always anxious to get started, so I sent an e-mail to the director of the program and asked a few basic questions.