I’m sitting on an examination table in an examination room waiting for the doctor to come in.  The narrow little room is barely larger than a broom closet and lit by a single sullen fluorescent light that doesn’t seem too thrilled to be here.

My naked feet dangle just inches above the floor.  I look round and see the standard things you would find in any exam room in America, rubber glove dispenser, a sink, anatomy posters that look decades old,  and advertisements for some new drug or some other treatment for diseases that I can’t even imagine.

The doctor walks in.  He looks to be in his fifties and wears the ceremonial white lab coat that we all associate with medicine and science.  He briefly glances at a clipboard, greets me, and gets to business.  He kneels down and starts stretching and rotating my feet around.  After a few minutes he nods his head and announces that he is pleased with my progress.  The ankles are not as stiff as before and the swelling has disappeared. As he washes his hands at the sink he advises me that I should start running again.  Nothing too severe and definitely not everyday.  But it would be for the best he says.

Just like that, doc?  That easy?  Start running.  I think back through the years at all the people who would issue commands or make broad statements and never really gave any thought as to what they were saying.

Start running.  I had stopped running back in November.  In the middle of a step, miles away from anywhere, I stepped down and felt a fiery jolt of pain race up my right leg.  I nearly stumbled off the running trail.  I wound up hopping all the way back home and I kept limping for the next two months.

I then had to navigate through my insurance agency’s tenuous rules and regulations till I found a podiatrist I could go see.  Now, months after the treatment I was ready for the next level of my rehabilitation.  Running again.

I had tried getting back into running before.  If you know nothing else about me you must at least know that I will heedlessly plunge into anything with little thought of consequences.  It is one of my biggest faults and at a few key moments in my life my only redeeming quality.

The results of course were predictable.  After less than five minutes of running.  Pain, cursing, limping, and returning home dejected.  So you must imagine I was not too thrilled to attempt running again.

Treadmills.  No true runner would find it ironic to know that treadmills had at one time been used as a punishment in prisons hundreds of years ago.  The device itself is not to blame and neither are the designers that in their genuine good intentions wanted to provide people with an indoors running option.  No, rather the concept of mindlessly running in place in one spot for minutes if not hours at a time is somehow anathema to those that spend any amount of time on the road.  The very activity seems to be innately linked to punishment.

The newest and latest treadmills offer all manner of conveniences from heart rate monitors to personal fans to virtual reality TV monitors that try to give the illusion of running out-of-doors including inclining or declining the treadmill.  But really nothing replaces the feeling of being out-of-doors and seeing the world move past as you run.  Feeling the heat of the sun, the cold of winter, the rain pelting on your face or the wind blowing in your face and feeling like an anchor trying to drag you back.

This particular treadmill was on the higher end of the machines.  It had a built-in TV, a heart rate monitor and a variety of options to make your run more pleasant.  You could even hook it up to your smartphone and listen to your tunes.

I hit the quick start button and started walking.  I set the machine for a 30 minute workout.  The pace is a glacially slow walking pace so I almost immediately dialed it up.  After two minutes I was bored so I dialed it up again and again.  I finally dialed it up till I was at the edge of a running pace.  How long could I keep this up?  I kept nudging it up.  I held onto the heart rate monitor bar and I was already up to 130 beats a minute.

Finally I was running.  The monitor said I was running somewhere between a 9 and 10 minute mile.  I’ll take that.  I wasn’t trying to break any records.  Just get out of the starting gate again.  I try to focus on the running and keeping my mind off the tendons in my ankles.  Was I tearing something?  Would I feel it in the morning?  Would I throw away months of rehab in a few minutes?

Keep running.  Ten minutes, fifteen minutes into the workout.  I reach for the heart rate monitor.  174 beats  minute.  Right at the edge for a man my age.  Sweat is getting in my eyes.  I feel my cheeks flush as my internal engines kicks into high gear.  Long idle systems springing back to life.

I feel a slight jolt as the treadmill slows down.  I’ve lost track of time and the 30 minutes is up.  The machine automatically goes into a ‘cool down’ mode and a walking pace.  After five minutes I unsteadily walk off the treadmill and head to the weight room.  Sweat rolling off every inch of me.

A couple of the trainers do a double take seeing me walking off a treadmill.  They’re used to seeing me at the stationary bikes.  Riding fast and getting nowhere.

I pass by a kid wearing an Iggy & the stooges cut off t-shirt.  Apropos I guess because I do feel like a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.  I should be dead tired but I’m not.  Running always revs up my engine and this workout has released a heady brew or adrenaline and testosterone into a system that hasn’t felt like this in months.  I’m not cooling off at all.  I was heating up.

Everyone has a set routine of how they prefer to workout.  Too many people today, my routine won’t work.  I need to get rid of this excess energy.  So I head for the nearest thing.  The rowing machine is open.  I don’t even check the weight and just start rowing.  Attacking the handles and almost ripping them off.  Before I know it I’ve gone through three sets and still I’m not tired.

It’s almost intoxicating.  This feeling of power coursing through me, needing an outlet.  I feel like I can do anything.  Bicep curls, the ab crunch, the chest press.  Finally I get to the lower back machine and I feel that I’ve done enough.

I get in the car and it hits me.  Like a junkie coming down, the last vestiges of the adrenaline wear off and I feel abnormally tired.  I almost want to sleep.  So many months without anything and suddenly all of this.  It’s too much for my system.

Still, I wonder how my ankles will reward me in the morning.  One day doesn’t cure anything.  It’s just a proof of concept.  I’ve still got a long ways to go and this is just one of many challenges to come.  Enjoy the moment.  Little victories like this are few and precious.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.



One Thought on “run

  1. Over. The. Moon.

    We’ll have to have a ceremonial run-and-breakfast soon!

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