Does my (walking) trail end here?

Today is the last day of our team fitness challenge at work. The minutes will be tallied and the winning team in our company will get cool prizes’n’stuff. For six whole weeks, our team has been logging minutes, boosting spirits and heading ever forward to our goal to win over the other teams in our company. Er, to win for our own good, I mean. 🙂

So besides finishing up the day strong, all I can think is, will I walk again come Monday?

I have a reminder on my Outlook calendar to walk at 10 AM. Even if I didn’t, after these past six weeks, I start getting twitchy at 9:30. I also sit next to a window where I can see the trail winding past below.

There really isn’t any excuse not to keep on walking. If only I wasn’t so good at finding one!

Today tested some of my comfort-loving limits. I stepped outside and was instantly aware that my fall coat was not remotely robust enough, my girly scarf didn’t even pretend to keep my neck unchilled and I’m STILL wearing fingerless gloves like a moron.

Did I want to walk? Not really!

But as I was complaining to myself, I kept my feet moving away from the door, because by gum, I’d had so many good times on this trail, I had to have this one too–especially if it proved to be my last.

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The Ire of the Long-Distance Runner (or Why I’m Glad to Walk)

Today’s the kind of day where you wish the legwarmers you see in the stores actually looked good. There’s a reason the 80s went out of style!

I had missed my outdoor walk yesterday because my nose refused to stop sneezing. There’s something about your eyes streaming and nose running that makes a person want to stay in just one place.

All the over-the-counter meds I took didn’t start working until 7 pm last night. It’s amazing how mad your legs can get when you don’t use them.

So today I was even more eager to get outside despite the threat of rain. It not only makes my legs happy, but it gets my brain working. I find myself thinking of all sorts of things while ambling around the trail.

It was on a particularly prairie-like portion of the trail today that I suddenly flashed back to other Septembers back in high school when I was in cross-country.

I swear I used to run faster before I joined the team. I remember chasing after an older cousin of the tall, lanky boy type who had dared to squirt me with water at a family picnic. Boy, was he surprised when I caught up to him!

But running as a sport never occurred to me until a coach at my high school saw me run during ordinary gym class. My fate was suddenly sealed into practices, meets, team photos and team jerseys.

I hated it.

Our school was small, so the cross-country coach was a science teacher pressed into service. He’d ride his bicycle alongside us during practices and tell us to hurry up. We ran on city streets with no sidewalks and lots of traffic and through fields bristling with irate Dobermans. We did countless wind sprints up and down stairs.

We’d be dropped off in unfamiliar woods, split up and play “tag,” and find our way back to the checkpoint. I get lost in my own neighborhood; this was not fun.

We’d run on the thick sand next to Lake Michigan to build up our condition, or whatever it was that I didn’t build up because by the time we’d run over to the beach, I was walking. I had a compatriot who’d walk with me and we’d arrive back to the school an hour after everyone else to face impatient parents. Oops!

Our meets with their long bus rides ran past their expiration point into the snowy season, or at least it seemed one notable day with killer hills, slippery woods, blinding flurries and a 19-below-F wind chill.

That was two years after I’d started with the team. That was also the day I quit. I waited until I crossed the finish line–all the other girls on the team dropped out; one had fallen over another who’d collapsed in the woods–but that was it for me.

Yet obviously something had kept me going through those two years. Was it a sense of integrity? Was it knowing deep down inside that this was a good thing? Or was it knowing that this was something I not only could do, but wasn’t that bad at?

I never qualified for anything, but I could sprint, and overtaking someone sprinting ahead of me was awesome. My personal best time for two miles was 16:08, and though that time could never win, that day I was proud and my coach was proud, and that felt great.

Meeting people from other teams was great too. Even though all the schools were rivals, we paired up with another small school against the big 4-minute-mile guys and military academies. It was fun to hail friends piling out of their buses and hang out before going back home.

Looking back, cross-country itself wasn’t that bad either. I think being in that sport has trickled down to what I’m doing today. I’m getting out there and getting my needed exercise without the benefits of being in an organized, coached sport. The team camaraderie here at work is doing the trick far more than it ever did back in high school, but I learned about teamwork back then.

And maybe someday I’ll pick up running again, but for now, walking suits me just fine!

Pic (and good article!) from here.

I didn’t want to walk today…

…but I did it anyway.

Logically, I knew I should. I need minutes to track, a team to inspire, and my own personal health goals to achieve. Yada yada yada.

Yet the reasons not to go seemed far more comforting, as if giving in to them would be like pulling a warm blanket over me on a chilly-snap day. With a favorite book and a mug of hot cocoa.

I’m tired. The fun from the long weekend has worn me out. Today feels like a Monday when it isn’t. I’m hungry and want to eat lunch early. In fact, I just want to eat.

And it’s stupidly crisp out there for the 6th of September, as if the calendar were obeying that gloomy “Summer’s over when school starts!” feeling.

All of these were reasons to keep me inside.

It’s always easy to make time for things we want to do, whether it’s watching a Real Housewives marathon or going on a Taco Bell run or tending your Facebook Farmville.

How you get yourself to do things you know you SHOULD do is quite another matter.

I routinely get caught up in the “should dos” and resent them emphatically. I was starting to resent it today.

But my brain is smarter than I am, and my brain told me to go.

And you know what? My brain was right.

I thought, would I seriously look back on today and think, Gosh, I’m SO glad I didn’t take my 20-minute walk?

Or did I want to look back on today and feel good for getting out while I could in the fresh air and sunshine, using the legs I’m fortunate to have power me on–and more importantly, NOT letting myself down?

Yeah. That.

Next time you’re stuck in the teeth-gnashing, soul-wearying “should dos” for exercising, getting that paper written or that project done, try looking 20 minutes ahead and picturing how you’ll feel after your should dos are done. Chances are you’ll be glad you got ‘er done.

The path I’m glad I took: