Group run Saturday morning was all right. It was 35 degrees, raining, and the melting snow either created icy patches or flooded the streets in massive puddles or running streams. But it was tropical paradise compared to a week ago. Finally, it didn’t feel like Mother Nature was trying to kill me whenever I stepped outside.
Later that day I was talking with someone about my fitness activities and the events I have planned for this year, including several ultramarathons and my first-ever triathlons. “How do you find the time to train?” she asked, knowing the type of training needed to perform well at these events.
Well, it isn’t easy. With a full-time job, a house to maintain, cats to serve, and plenty of other interests, it would be easy to claim that I didn’t have the time to exercise regularly. But I have been able to integrate exercise into my life without it seeming like a large sacrifice of my otherwise “free” time. Here are a few ways I’ve done this:
Saturday mornings. These used to be my “sleep in” days, and I would typically stay in bed until 10:00. Now I roll out of bed at 7:00, toss on running clothes, and head downtown for a run of 10 miles or more with PR Fitness. By 10:00 I’ve exercised, gotten some fresh air, and enjoyed time with my running friends. I go to bed earlier on Friday nights to make this possible, but that’s probably healthier for me too.
Afternoon walks. I did these long before I became a regular runner, and I still use them when I need a break. Just fifteen minutes is one mile, enough to reinvigorate body and mind and help burn off that after-lunch cookie (or two).
Evening short runs and bike rides. In the warmer months I can hop on my bike at 6:00 p.m. and get in a 20-mile trip before dark. Even one hour on the bike can be a good workout, or a relaxing cure for a tough day at work. And year-round I run Wednesday nights with PR Fitness.
So what am I getting out of all this? The physical benefits, for sure. I’m stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been. But that by itself doesn’t explain why running and cycling has become such an important part of my life. There are mental and spiritual benefits, too. A slow, easy run or bike ride are not much of a physical challenge, but they create a sense of peace and well-being that releases stress and helps restore my sense of perspective. The petty concerns of day-to-day life drop away, and I can spend some time in the moment, feeling connected with life, the universe, and everything (*).
Next time (or soon) I will talk about something else I’m working on, so far with mixed success, to work further on a greater sense of spirituality. Stay tuned.
(*) Yes, the answer is 42.