This coming Saturday, I’m running. I used to proudly proclaim that I only run when being chased, but that changed earlier this year for two reasons.
For several years, my girlfriend Lisa has run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 10K. Komen is a charity that directly benefits the fight against breast cancer, and Lisa has lost family members to the disease. She’s never raised a ton of money, and she’s not a hard-core runner, but the event has always been important to her.
This year, I set myself the challenge of running the 10K as a way to benefit somebody who’s still around: my friend Dave. As a government office worker, he’s never been the most mobile or in-shape guy. But when his continued gain weight and unhealthy living habits became the concerned topic of conversation among friends and family over Christmas vacation, I decided to do something about it. I threw down the gauntlet and challenged him to run the race with me. I’ve known Dave since kindergarten, so I know how well the language of competition compels him to action. It would be a contest between the two of us, and unlike Dave, I did not have a gym membership.
Despite my grand aversion to running, I began training as soon as the weather warmed in the spring, starting with an embarrassing 1-mile run/walk around the block that left me sore, panting, and soaked in sweat. Which actually bring me to the second reason for this venture.
It’s been a full year now since I left my job at a UPS Store for self-directed freelance work. Having worked in packing and shipping stores for many (many) years, I can attest that one of the better aspects of the job is being in regular motion. I was always walking to a counter (the computer terminals are all at stand-up counter tops), carrying packages, building boxes and such. I was in decent shape. But when I left all that for the glamorous life of sitting at a desk for most of a day, drawing and fiddling on the computer, I began down the same path as Dave. I put on a few pounds and just generally became more immobile, which actually sapped my creative energy. It turned out that the running challenge was as much for my own benefit as it was for Dave’s.
Nine months after issuing my challenge, I’m regularly running at least 6 miles a week. I’ve lost the weight I gained over the winter, my face is smattered with freckles from being outside more often, I’ve established a time when I can be meditative, and I feel more energized and creative. Lisa asked me the other day if I was going to keep running after the 10K, I said I probably would (at least until the snow falls). At 34 years old, I completely changed professions (including putting acting to the side for now) and started something frightening and new. At 35, I’ve now implemented and stuck with a completely new health and exercise regiment.
So I guess this proves that you’re never too old or too entrenched to try something new and reinvent yourself. In fact, the minute you believe you can no longer change, you HAVE gotten old.
Also, we’d love it if you’d donate to our worthy cause. All the proceeds go directly to Komen for the Cure: http://chicagoland.info-komen.org/goto/IHeartRunning