I just returned from my annual physical. I love my physician–she’s thorough, respectful, and engaged. Routine physicals can sometimes feel, well, routine, with the same questions asked in the same order, year after year. Do you use sunscreen? Do you smoke? How much do you drink? Despite the script, my doctor still manages to make me feel like she cares.
She already knows about my tennis addiction, so when we got to the exercise question, she asked what else I did. I went through my usual spiel. “Well, I really like to run, but I don’t do it very often. And I know I should be lifting weights, but…” I trailed off with a shrug and a smile and looked at her expectantly. This is the point when we normally share a chuckle over my all-too-human failings and move on to other business.
But today my doctor was working off a new playbook. She spun on her little stool to face me, leaned in, and began peppering me with questions:
“So what’s keeping you from running?”
“Do you have good running shoes?”
“Which days do you have free for fitting in a run?”
“What about making a commitment and holding yourself accountable to someone?”
Jeez, Mom. Chillax…
Have to say, I’m not a fan of this new approach. In theory, it’s admirable for her to help me identify the obstacles to exercise, but in practice, it felt suspiciously like nagging. If our exchange had happened on any other day, I might have gotten a little testy.
Coincidentally, though, it’s the first of the month, and I’d been wondering what my October challenge would be. I’m always on the lookout for “signs” to tell me what to do. If there were ever a sign, my doctor’s badgering surely must be it.
So running will be the October challenge, or, as I indicated in the title, the half-challenge. It’s pathetic to start making excuses on Day 1, but I’m afraid I must. LittleYellowBall will be on hiatus all next week–it’s the blog’s first vacation!–and I won’t be doing any running during that period.
Given the hiatus, how much running can I realistically commit to? I’ll say eight runs of three miles each. That’s not a lot, but it’s not nothing, either. Plus, I’m the world’s second slowest runner. Running three miles represents a bigger time commitment for me than it does for normal people. (I used to be THE slowest runner, but I passed an octogenarian on the track a few weeks ago. A proud moment for me.)
How will the running impact my tennis? As coach Erin Reeves said in our interview this summer, fitness can make the difference in a match, just having the ability to run down one more ball. The extra exercise could also help me sleep better and feel more alert on the court. And I might lose a couple of pounds, look better in my tennis clothes, and bring that extra smidge of confidence into my matches.
All excellent reasons to lace up the running shoes, and here’s one more: If I drop more than a couple of pounds, I may even need to buy new tennis clothes.
I’m sure there are plenty of runners out there. Any tips for fitting it into your day? Do any lapsed runners want to join in the challenge???
(Also, everybody go get your flu shot! Every year, perfectly healthy people just like you die from the flu. Last year, two women from my town succumbed to the flu, and one of them was exactly my age. It was a needed wake-up call for me. Your families need you. Go get the shot for them.)