Jocelyn runs. By definition, that makes her a runner.
I sit. By definition, that makes me a sitter.
The process of my evolution from sitter to runner has not been quick, pleasant, painless or natural.
It started with walking. Jocelyn and I would walk this beautiful, serene mountain trail near the house. The sign said the loop went 2.5 miles. Up and down to the top of the mountain and down again to the valley floor.
Two-and-a-half miles is easy…on flat ground…when the temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In the hills and with the heat, the walk was a little more of the “breathing and sweating” variety than I prefer.
But over time, the walk became easy.
Then one day, I made the mistake of scrambling up a hill in a fashion that resembled a trot…or, I guess, a jog. In all honesty, I think I may have fallen up. You know falling up. It’s like when you stumble on your way up the stairs. To save face, you take a couple of quick steps in an attempt to fool any onlookers into thinking you were just shifting from first gear into second.
So, yeah, I took a couple of swifter-than-normal steps, and then sadly, Jocelyn thought I was attempting to run. And she started running behind me. I had to keep up the pretense for as long as I could so she would think I had an actual engine under my hood.
The next day, we timed our walk/run. 44:06 minutes.
The day after that we did it in 43:11 minutes.
A routine emerged. We’d walk a little to warm up, and then we’d give it a little more gas going up hill. Once at the top, we’d just try to point our feet in the direction of the bottom and let it go as we bombed down the hill!
Part of that routine involved me going first, me setting the pace. Why? I’m not a runner, remember? I’m a sitter. Had my sprinter and marathon-running fiance set the pace, I would have died the first day.
Fast-forward to earlier this week. We ran a 36:47 time. It felt good.
The very next day, we changed the routine. Somehow, and I’m not entirely sure how, Jocelyn went first. I think she probably took advantage of me getting twisted up in a spider web to take the lead under the guise of forging a web-free path for me.
We did the run in just over 35 minutes, a new best.
Two points to think about. If you want to rust, you don’t have to do a thing. Just sit there. No matter how young you are, no matter how strong you are, no matter how solid your genes are, over time you will begin to rust. If you want your body to rust away, stop moving. If you want your skills to become obsolete, stop learning. If you want your mind to deteriorate, stop using it. If you want any part of your life to atrophy, remain idle.
On the other hand, iron sharpens iron. Here are some iron-sharpening lessons I gleaned from this new running regimen:
- Start. If your baseline is “couch potato”, that’s okay. You have to start somewhere. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Jocelyn sharpened my desire to get off the couch. Who sharpens your resolve?
- Measure. If what you are doing can be observed, there’s a way to measure it. Measurement will help reinforce you and reward you as you make progress. And it will tell you that you are making progress! Jocelyn’s iMapMyRun droid app recorded our time and distance so we could feel good about every little improvement. Positive results sharpen your resolve. How do you track your progress?
- Watch. With Jocelyn behind me, I got a little faster each day. But I’m a sitter, not a runner. Once I let Jocelyn-the-runner lead, I got better. Following someone who’s stronger makes you stronger. When you want to improve your performance, watch someone do it who is better than you. Who can you learn from to get better?
- Push. You don’t have to set a goal so high that you can’t possibly obtain it, but you can try to improve your personal best each time you go out. Some people are motivated by being “pushed” by someone else. If you need to be pushed, find someone who will keep you disciplined and on track. Or if you can challenge yourself, use your personal best to make improvements over time. How can you push yourself to get a little better each day?
Iron sharpens iron. Get sharpening.