What I learned from exercising

My ankles have been hurting for a week. The pain wasn’t super intense, but it was there. I know it was largely due to my new jogging routine. I Googled and learned that many first time runners injure their ankles with bad running postures. I, of course, am one of them. I also read that pain is common because our tendons, bones and muscles take time to strengthen.

I haven’t had time to jog since last Sunday mostly because of work and my 500-item-to-do-list, so I thought I should have given my ankles enough time to rest. Last night, I took a nap after dinner and woke up at midnight. The running track near where I live was obvious closed. I didn’t want to give myself an excuse to go off my regime, though. Once I embark on a routine, I try very hard to stick to the bare minimum I’ve prescribed myself because I know if I just relaxed and let myself go off the wagon for just once, next time I would tell myself to relax again. Eventually I would not longer be keeping it up. When I still had time to go to the gym, I promised myself to go twice a week. If I happened to miss one session this week, I would make myself go three times the next. I wanna do the same with jogging. I set a 2 times per week target, and I intend to keep it up no matter how busy my schedule is.

So I woke up and decided to run on the pavement instead of the track. My ankles began to hurt the moment my feet stomped on the ground. It was the first time I run on such hard surface, and it was slippery because of the rain. I was trying to circle my neighbourhood, but the route was uneven with many turns. I had to be very careful to watch out for puddles of water in order to not trip. After circling my neighbourhood four times, I had to stop because my ankles were hurting more than usual, and it was just too dangerous to run under bad lighting without my glasses/contact lenses. I went home to massage my legs and wondered if I should run the next day.

Tonight after dinner I decided to give it a try on the track. I knew missing a day of training wasn’t gonna make me fat overnight, and having another day of training wasn’t gonna take 5 pounds off me. I thought of my schedule this week, and I just knew I wouldn’t have time to run until next weekend. Even if I couldn’t bear the pain, I should at least go walk and circle the track. I need to fulfil the promise I made to myself.

I knew my ankles haven’t healed completely when I was stretching, but I told myself to just give it a try. The first few steps were pretty painful, but as soon as I readjusted my posture, the pain was at least bearable. I also noticed why I liked running on track now. Some people may find it boring because you are looking the same thing basically the entire time–the same spectator stand, the same football pitch, the same large scoreboard with a digital clock. Interestingly, I found joy in it. I like how I get to measure my progress with the marks on the track. I get to count my distance and know how much I’ve improved over time. More importantly, I get to run with people from all walks of life of all ages in all shapes and sizes.

I’m a very slow runner. I have no intention to improve my speed. I just wanna improve my endurance. I often feel like giving up after just two laps, but I’d tell myself, “Just one more lap. You can do it.” I always end up finishing two more before I take a break. Presently I set my daily minimum at 7 laps, with breaks. Sometimes during the 5th lap my legs already feel like giving up, but with the same “Just one more!” spirt, I have been able to reach my goal pretty much every time, except when I’m doing my third run of the week, then I’d cut myself some slacks.

My sweat was all over my face and my lips could taste the saltiness when a guy zoomed past me today. I saw a trail of water drops formed behind him. It was his sweat. I don’t know what has gotten to me. At that moment, I thought it was the most beautiful ever. After I finished my run, I sat on the ground and started stretching again. I was soaked in my own sweat and could see it dropping on the floor from my chin. I used to hate exercising outdoor because as a very sweaty person, I found sweating through my blouse or shirt embarrassing. It’s a epiphany to find post exercise sweating so beautiful.

Every drip is a result of determination and hard work. People exercise for all sorts of reasons. Some do it to stay fit, some do it for health, I do it for both plus mental strength training. Whatever our intentions are, regardless of our speed, we should all be proud.

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About Nicky

Nicky English is a journalist, an educator, a podcaster, a couch potato, a dreamer, and a child at heart. Learning is her passion, so is the English language, which she believes is the tool to unlock the door of knowledge. Born in Hong Kong, she received intensive writing training at The University of Iowa, where she double-majored in journalism and political science. Apart from the Hawkeye State, she’s lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. When she was a guest student at Georgetown University, she fell in love with Washington, D.C. She also has a Master of Arts in Communication. A little side note—she cannot imagine a world without her Mac and iDevices. Like many crazy ones, she hopes to change the world one day at a time.
This entry was posted in health & exercise, identity crisis, motivation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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