My mom isn't the only one who's implied lately that I'm a wuss. While chatting on Skype the other night, V. and I started reminiscing about the time we hauled his furniture down the street in Santiago when he moved to a new house a few blocks away. (Two days later, his new room was rendered uninhabitable by the earthquake.) He admitted that my endurance had surprised him that day because, and I quote, "you don't do anything."
Anything in the way of exercise, he clarified.
Come on, V. That's not entirely true. Back in Santiago, I rode a bike, walked a lot and had a job that kept me on my feet (literally) for nine hours each day. In Minneapolis this summer, I walked around the lake occasionally and paid a few visits to the elliptical machine. It's true, however, that it's been a while since there's been anything systematic about my exercise. In other words, I don't have a fitness regimen.
I think I need one. At first, I thought fitness would take care of itself in New York. (I also thought I would paint my entire apartment before moving in and have a thriving herb garden up on the rooftop. Alas.) I would, after all, be walking everywhere, right? And wouldn't the plethora of health food options available inspire me to master some healthy recipes?
Not exactly. Sure, I could walk everywhere and spend hours each week chopping cabbage and cooking quinoa. However, the truth is that I'm frequently either too exhausted or in too much of a hurry to do either. There are many days when my only exercise involves hustling to the subway and my only meals are those I can grab on the go. The result: I've been feeling crazed and out of shape. I need to exercise, and I need a routine.
So I've decided to try running. Again. I made my first attempt freshman year of college. I figured that if my roommate could make it to crew practice before dawn each morning, I could at least do a few laps around the neighborhood. Easier said than done in a neighborhood full of hills, treacherously uneven sidewalks and trees that drop softball-sized seed pods everywhere. My career as a runner lasted all of two weeks.
My second try took place halfway across the world. My family and I were on vacation in Spain, and I'd decided that taking morning jogs would be an invigorating way to see the sights. Unfortunately for me, a record-breaking heat wave hit Europe that summer. The one time I actually rolled out of bed early enough to catch some cool air, I got so lost amid the steep, tangled streets of Granada that I had to take a cab back to the hotel. You know, like seasoned athletes do.
Here in New York, it's not as easy to blame my failures on a sinister conspiracy between urban planners and climactic conditions. There are plenty of flat, well-paved and attractive places to run here. Among them is Central Park, where I decided to give running another go this week. Surprisingly, I started off OK. What's encouraging about Central Park is that for every intimidating leave-you-in-my-New-Balance-dust marathoner, there's a novice runner like me. On the day of my first run, there was also a woman who was at least seven months pregnant and put me to shame.
I guess I still have a long way to go.
Any tips, seasoned runners? How can a flojita like me get in the habit without burning out or getting injured?