Friday, November 18, 2005

More thoughts on exercise (Part one)

I have been doing a good deal of soul-searching this week about what being healthy (and fit) means to me… I don’t have any definitive answers. And you may have to indulge me with a few more postings as I work this out in my head…

Here’s Part One – Reflections on childhood and youth experiences with exercise…

  • I always hated gym class… mostly because it was my weakest subject (no pun intended). Like most people, I typically gravitate towards what I’m good at. I was never good at sports and so naturally, I stayed away from them.
  • In those obligatory annual fitness tests in school, I usually came in dead last in everything – making me hate gym class (and fitness tests) even more. I dropped gym class from my schedule the first chance I got.

In high school I did some long distance running… I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I mustered up the courage to go talk to the track coach about it, he just looked at me and said, “I don’t think that’s a very good idea.” And he refused to have any part of it.

So, I asked my English teacher (also a long distance runner) instead. She gave me some tips and then I just went and ran my little heart out… blindly. Most of the time, I had no freaking idea what I was doing and it's a wonder to God that I didn't seriously hurt myself.

After the marathon the English teacher, Coach and I curiously ended up in the same hallway at the same time one day after school. Mrs. Williams said, “The marathon was on the weekend. I saw Sarah there. She did O.K.”

Well... she lied a little bit. I was the second last person to finish the race. The guy behind me was howling at the paramedics, “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” Knowing he’d be disqualified if he was assisted. Me, I was just slow.

My time was about 4:44, I think. I’d have to look it up to be exact. Anyway, the course closed at 5 hours, so I was cutting it close. That was almost 20 years ago and it was a small marathon in Halifax. There weren’t as many people running or walking marathons then and it wasn’t so unusual for a course to close after 5 hours back then… Supposedly, you didn’t even think of doing a marathon unless you were a “real” runner.

Anyway, Coach’s reaction in the hallway was, “Didn’t think you’d do it, kid. You’ve got pluck. I’ll give ya that.” And he walked away.

So, when I look back at these experiences with exercise as a young person, I can see that there’s not a lot of positives to look back on.

No wonder I was happier with my nose in the books!

Now, in my 30’s, I’m trying to create a balanced, healthy life (and lifestyle), that includes regular exercise. I realize that I am still very much affected by these early gym class experiences.

I am consciously trying to create a life that balances mind, body, soul, emotions and whatever else one can balance. My question is… How do I balance those early negative experiences with current good experiences so I can maintain this over the long term??

The irony of all this, of course, is that as I'm thinking about this, I realize that I am of course... thinking (inside my head again!) Mind you, at least I'm trying to think while maintaining good posture...


Constantine said...

I thought I'd pay you a return visit.

I exercise. Run and box (heavy bag) predominantly. At my age, 38, it's more about fostering a better quality of life vs. looking better in my clothes so to speak. I'm convinced that exercising not only keeps the body in "tune" but fuels the mind as well, and for me that's where the real treasure is stored.

Life is so short, even if one becomes an octogenarian. I want to be able to enjoy the back nine if you will as much as possible, and to do so I think exercise must be part of the equation.

ipodmomma said...

I know exactly what you're talking about... It too hated PE.. what a drag those classes were...

and until we moved here, I never did any regular exercise...

but I think that the marathon you ran back in HS is pretty important.. you did something that most kids that age couldn't do.. that to me means something...

Peter loves weights, loves going to the gym and messing with all those machines. that would drive me absolutely bananas... my osteo is a swimmer, and always subtly hinting that the pool is the place to be. I love walking... would walk (in not freezing weather) till the cows came home. I think it's a matter of finding what you like, what makes you happy, then fitting that in. it is not easy... that I know. last fall I had the bright idea I was going to start jogging... and my osteo shook her head. and it was hard, and I found out I'm not a runner. but it did bring me back to walking, which I really get into, and so now that's my exercise of choice. the previous poster is right. at our age, I'm 39, it's not about a fab bod, at least not for me.. too much excess skin from a body past. but I know by keeping active, I am increasing my body's future days.

and that is something that at 16, 17, 18, we don't really think about...

anyways, hope you have a lovely weekend!


if this is disjoijnted, well, I read your commnet on my blog, and came right over... so no time to lose any precious thoughts! :)))

Granny said...

Marathon - you did it - it doesn't matter how long it took. And adults who stifle kids should be ashamed.

I didn't like p.e. either although I did like to play softball and still love watching pro baseball (big S. F Giants fan).

ipodmomma said...

oh, the taclecloth... it was for sale at a church bizarre a few years back, and at the end of the day I picked it up... it's large cross stitching, and I decided to stitch our names on it, that year for Christmas, all who had eaten... the first year was all of us and Peter's dad. the second year was all of us, and his mom... but I never actually got all the names done, and the next year I used a different cloth, because I couldn't bear to use the one still unfinished... how lame is that?

so not only do I not iron, but I can't seem to get a stitching project finished either!

oh well... :)))

Elliot said...

I was goofy in gym class myself. It was certain that my glasses would fall off, or be knocked off, in every class.

I eventually got tired of being ridiculed. I liked to watch basketball and I told my dad to get me a basketball hoop and I just shot and shot until I got good enough to be proud of myself, and to be darn good competition on the court (this took about 3 years, but it was worth it).

Your discovery was just as organic. You just might like to run. Start with a lap. I started with one shot at a basketball hoop. Get (or fire up) an iPod. Take it slowly. Move up. If you're doing something you like, it won't be nothing but fun.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. I wasn't very good at gym class either, and it affected me in many ways not only where physical fitness is concerned. In answer to your question, I think the balance you're looking for lies in the realization that your negative childhood experiences were that of a much younger, inexperienced girl. You have made a decision, now, to improve in these areas of physical fitness and all round balance. These are decisions made on the basis of much more life experience. Maybe keeping you nose in the books was where you needed to be THEN. NOW you're ready for the new challenges of balanced physical fitness and a healthy life style. Keep it up, you'll do just fine!

Amber said...

Holy Cow girl ... I've read that that you aren't gonna train for a marathon ... but this is the first I have read that you ran a marathon. You rock!!! How in the world have you not mentioned this before ... or how in the world have I not read this before?!?

Anyhow, I'm just catching up on your blog ... it's been awhile since I've been online, so maybe you mention it more in future posts ... but wow a marathon ... in high schoo!!!

And under 5 hours ... that is great!!!

Sarah Elaine said...

Amber - I guess I don't think about it that much... It WAS two decades ago! :-) !!