Trying to Run

I was tempted to title this post “Wanting to Die.” At least that’s the way I felt at times during this morning’s walk, during parts of which I attempted to run, succeeding in a sort of mild lope.

I didn’t set out with the idea of running. Whenever I’ve attempted it before, my arthritic knees have quickly let me know that running was out of the question. But lately in my ballet class we’ve been warming up by skipping, and this always feels so good to me that I feel like I could keep it up all day, though actually I’m out of breath and more than ready to stop after a couple of laps around the studio. At any rate, I thought that, even if I couldn’t run, perhaps I could skip for at least part of my walking route and thus get a more aerobic workout and more cardiovascular benefit.

I was raring to go. I was well and thoroughly rained out yesterday—nearly five inches of rain over the course of the evening, night, and early morning—but this morning, while still wet, didn’t look too threatening, and in fact the sun was beginning to come out by the time I got home. The temperature was very pleasant—in the low 60s, with a fresh breeze—so conditions were ideal.

Well, almost ideal. While it is not at all unusual to see people running and walking, you basically don’t ever see anyone (at least not anyone my age) skipping, so I felt a little self-conscious about starting. The hardest part of moving from walking to doing anything else is changing gait to begin with, but I’d made up my mind I’d get down to the corner and then start skipping on the part of my route that runs along the bluff overlooking the bay, where there are houses on only one side, on broad lots and several of them unoccupied, so there would be few potential observers. So naturally, as soon as I got to the corner, there was an explosion of vehicular traffic. Where were all these cars coming from? (Some of them from Mississippi, to judge by their tags.)

Finally, the last car in sight turned a corner, and I started trying to skip. Bad idea. I don’t know whether it was the road surface, the shoes, or just the general ambiance, but it simply wasn’t working. So instead I tried the knees-bent jazz run we also do in class. To my surprise, this actually worked out pretty well (no knee pain).

Not surprisingly, I couldn’t keep it up for long, but I did manage to get in several stints (of a block or two or three) of “running,” interspersed with longer stretches of catching my breath. Perhaps it was the effect of the increased heart rate, but I found that even when I dropped down to a walk, I was walking faster. The bottom line was that I shaved better than five minutes off my total time and presumably got a better workout, so I guess I’ll try to keep it up, even if at times it does seem entirely likely that I’ll drop dead in my tracks.

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