This post is a throwback to the first time I ran a mile. For years now, people have known me as someone who loves to jog. I recall the first time someone texted me with something along the lines of, “I’m looking for a local race to run. Which one would you recommend?” I was shocked, and for good reason.
I didn’t know myself to be a sporty person of any kind. I had run “the mile” for the first time ever in grade 9 gym class. It was a mandatory part of the class curriculum, and it was also the most physically challenging thing I’d ever done up to that point. My experiences running before that had been few and very far between.
I had spontaneously enrolled in a 3,000-metre race at a cross country meet when I was in the fourth grade, and I’d dropped out after less than two full laps around the track because I couldn’t catch my breath enough to continue, and then I’d watched another last-minute contender wearing high-heeled wedge sandals sprint to a first-place finish. Then there was the maize field where my father jogged… He’d taken me once, and I had not had an easy time of trying to keep up with him. I’d walked more than I’d jogged.
When Aunt Flo visited two days ago, I had to take a day off from my workouts. This is a time during which some women actually feel best picking things up and sweating it out, but this time, I just needed to use the holiday to its full allowance and stay in bed a little extra.
By the time yesterday morning came around, my body really felt the effects of not having been exercised, and I could almost feel the pent-up energy in my muscles calling me to change into my workout gear and begin. I didn’t have a particular plan for what to do. I knew a good sweat and muscle resistance training would do the job of helping me to feel good and balanced once again.
Once I was ready and had drunk as much of my cup of coffee as possible, I headed for my workout. Even as someone who loves to exercise, I still face that nagging feeling that calls me to procrastinate on some days. Sometimes, if I’m going outside, it’s cold, or sometimes, if I know the workout will be hard (as yesterday), a little bit of dread creeps up.
Yesterday, I needed to sit down for a few hours to write a take-home school exam. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t do; I had studied all of the material already. I knew what I was getting into and how much I was supposed to write, and the questions for the exam were not tricky. I was supposed to choose one of the three question options and write an essay response. But I couldn’t shake the nerves that had built up a bit of tension in my muscles in the time I had waited to get started.
Luckily, the exam was not timed. I decided to use that opportunity to destress by getting out of my mind and releasing some of the tension that had built up in my muscles through a workout. Focusing on exercise, especially movements that require control and mental focus, has been an effective way for me to change my train of thought and get out of my mind. When I am focused on keeping good form while performing different moves, it’s easier to let go of anything else that might be vying for my mental attention, and it becomes possible to just be in the present moment.