My goal at the outset of this new regimen is to get out there every other day for a total of three runs a week. I have read that muscles need an opportunity to recover, and for that reason running every day is not recommended. (Those who offer such advice are probably talking to people who run five k in half an hour, which isn’t me. But I figure I might as well keep the wear and tear on my aging joints to a minimum.)
However, running only three days a week creates a problem. I know that if I don’t get up at the same time on the other days as I do on my running days, I will never develop the getting-up-early habit, and rolling out of bed will continue to be a battle. So I’ve decided to try to get up at the same time on the other days as well and instead of going for a run, go out for a walk.
Guess what? Going for a walk turns out to be far less onerous than going for a run. You have more time to check out cloud formations and you can smell the trees. You can even give yourself permission to stop to take pictures of interesting things, which you can’t do when you’re running. Take this chair set in the back of someone’s yard, looking out on Sheppard Ave. It’s the kind of chair I’d love to sit in: it’s far from human activity on three sides, well shaded, and looks out on the traffic going by on a pretty busy street (albeit somewhat less busy during a pandemic than usual).
I also found a path heading off into the woods from that busy street, and I was very tempted to see where it led.
So far this week, I’ve done two runs and two walks. This is a definite improvement over last week, and the week before that, and the one before that, etc. Many steps in the right direction. I am grateful to all those people who I imagine are reading this blog, because you’re the ones who got me out there! Onwards.
Just fyi, my first week’s schedule is 2 minutes of running plus 2 minutes of walking, repeated six times, plus a warmup and cool down at five minutes each. The first day out I was accompanied by Queen, and the second time by Chris Isaak.
This little guy has been the highlight of my outings so far. I paused on the path when I saw him and asked if he’d stay where he was if I moved a bit closer to take a picture. Keeping his eyes on me, he sat still until I’d snapped this photo.
Last week, I sent friends and relatives on my email contact list an announcement of my impending move, and a link to this new blog. That list includes several people I’ve known since childhood. A family friend I haven’t seen in at least 40 years responded almost immediately to invite me to stay in her basement bed- and bath-room suite in North Toronto while I am looking for a place to rent. I have now accepted her kind offer with deep gratitude. (Thank you again, Pat!)
I had intended that this week I would start to look for a furnished suite that I could rent for a few weeks while I was looking for a permanent address. I’d had a look at Craigslist and a few other on-line sites that advertise furnished suites that are available on a weekly or monthly basis. I was going to follow up on those more seriously, and put a notice onto a few of my on-line forums to see if anyone wanted to sublet for a month or so. However, to have now had that part of my to-do list eliminated before I even really started on it is simply wonderful, and the fact that Pat is centrally located and close to public transit is icing on the cake.
One of the first things I did after I accepted Pat’s invitation was to figure out how far she was from the Toronto Running Room stores and/or the Y. I was delighted to discover that there is a Running Room less than a kilometre from her house. The Running Room stores all have “run clubs” that go out on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, with different groups doing different paces. Everyone at every stage and speed is welcome. (Increasingly these stores now offer walking clubs as well for those who are not into running.) These and similar outlets are great resources for finding safe running trails in unfamiliar cities.
I am not an athlete. I’ve never been one—I skated in winter and swam in summer as a kid, but that was about it. Just after my second son was born I took an aerobics class, and ever since then I’ve been a recreational-level fitness fanatic (although admittedly an inconsistent and often inactive one. Sometimes my weekly exercise consists only of admiring people on television who are cycling or running). Running (or, more precisely, “jogging” in my case) is my favourite activity. Even my slow pace is enough to get the endorphins firing after twenty minutes or half an hour and the fresh air and small calorie burns are bonuses. Even at nearly 60, running is still a pretty good activity for me—especially when I do it.
One of the biggest drawbacks to living on the frozen prairie is that there always comes a point in the winter when running outside is not possible for an extended period—it is too cold and/or the roads and sidewalks are too slick. Getting downtown to the Y to find an alternate activity also seems to require too much courage in such weather. So inevitably, I stop. Getting started again when spring comes and the sidewalks are finally less treacherous is always hard. I worry that some year I will not start again at all, and so I had this thought: if I move to a place where I don’t have to stop running for more than a few days in a row, and if I keep on running all year round, then I’ll never have to start running again. This reasoning makes perfect sense to me: especially when I’m high on endorphins.
I finally have got myself back to the point where I’m running four days a week. I know that one key to my successful transition to Toronto is going to be to ensure that I continue to work out consistently. If I let that go during the move, it will be hard to get started again – there will always be something else I need to do more. In addition to boosting my spirits and my self-confidence, of course, exercise also builds my energy and strength. I’m going to need lots of those resources if I’m going to get all the packing done and do everything else I need to do in the next few weeks and months. I can’t afford to let the workouts slide.
So the Google map of Toronto with its little red balloons that showed the proximity of Pat’s house to a Running Room was a very welcome sight.