“ ‘There’s a saying, “Every man is put on Earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown’. Perhaps this is as it should be.”
– Ending narration for Escape Clause, ‘The Twilight Zone’, aired November 6th, 1959.
In the Twilight Zone’s Escape Clause, hypochondriac Walter Bedeker’s motivation for selling his soul to the Devil in exchange for immortality was his fear of death. In the end he realizes that fear of death is the only thing that gave his miserable life any meaning.
While I wouldn’t say my life was miserable, and I did have some workplace meaning, I didn’t have a ‘thing.’ I did feel like something was missing. And then one day I had a wake up call in the form of a medical scare as is common in middle age. I realized that while I couldn’t live forever, I knew perfectly well I could improve my situation and put health coins in the bank for the future. However, I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start or what to do, and knew I was in lousy shape. I had participated in a couple of sports previously but those were out of reach in my current situation, and in the case of weightlifting, I tended to get really bored, really fast.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
–Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
My decision to start running came the day I was at Carmichael Training System’s climbing camp as moral support for Matthew in 2015. I looked around the table during dinner on the final day of camp. These were men and women of my age or even older, who dragged themselves up mountains on a bike for fun and considered road rash merely an occupational hazard and therefore not worth a lot of thought. Being exhausted was their idea of a good time, and they were all enthusiastic in an essentially human way – drinking wine, celebrating a hard week’s worth of work, talking about cycling trips and old races, gossiping about the pros.
I had no such thing in my life. At that moment I vowed to change that.
I believe strongly that not is only exercise preventive medicine, but it also helps facilitate independence in old age, can slow down the progression of chronic disease symptoms like in Parkinson’s disease (a disease that has hit my family particularly hard), and increase feelings of well-being. I used to be a health psychologist and have seen first hand how meaningful gains in independence and an increased sense of control are in a person’s perceived quality of life. All too often we see exercise as punishment, or pointless, or unsustainable, and just generally as a way to ward off death. Which really is going to happen anyway so what’s the point when…hey, pizza?
The gains of working towards a fitness goal may not be easily quantifiable but on an individual basis, they can be life-changing. I’ve seen it in myself, and in others.
Besides the health psychology, exercise science, and general stuff related to fitness, this blog is about my own journey about learning to run at 44. I never ran in high school or college. I was that high school girl who stood so far out in the outfield in gym sometimes I missed the bell to come back inside. Anyone who liked running – well, there was something wrong with them.
Now there is something wrong with me too. And I am glad because I now have a ‘thing.’
I hope to share random thoughts and other cool things with you. So nice to meet you and hopefully you hang around, ok?