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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting in to shape

I have decided that I'm decidedly out of shape. It's the kind of thing that sneaks up on you, and you don't realize it until you're gasping for air with your hands on your head. The important part is that I'm doing something about it now, even if I have to start slow and small.

Yesterday I took the dogs out with me to run, but when the neighbor came home Jack took off running and barking like a thunder bolt. I had to stop my routine (which, since it was the first time I did anything, can hardly be called a "routine") to chase him down and bring him home. Today, I was smarter and I left the dogs inside. They spent the entire time watching me from the window with anxious and confused looks on their faces, something that's a little bit awkward at first. That's the price they pay for misbehaving, especially since i'm not the type to beat or abuse them.

I'm trying desperately to remember all the lessons I learned, or should have learned, in highschool gym class. Back then the classes were a complete waste of time: boring, repetitive, and taught by inept teachers. We used it more as a chance to socialize and rest then as a time to learn anything practical or to stay fit. I got more benefit, and still have more vivid and valuable memories, from the times when I took karate as a young kid. It's those lessons that are probably saving me from a season-ending hamstring injury right now.

I start off with some stretches. I don't know how long to do each stretch for, so I typically go for a count of 5 or 10 or until I get bored. I reach down to touch my toes (which I can still do, miraculously), then spread my legs apart wide and touch the floor. On the floor, I stretch out one leg, then the other, and then I do that thing the gym teachers always called the "butterfly". I do a few other stretches whose names I dont know and that I can't really describe real well, and then I start walking.

I walk for two reasons: to make sure there aren't any sticks, branches, stones, or reptiles in the places I plan to run, and to make sure everything is feeling okay before I start. As I mentioned before, I've never really owned running shoes before, so the over-zealous arch support takes some getting used to. That, and in my ineptitude I could easily have injured myself while trying to perform all those stretches. God only knows if I'm doing any of them correctly.

I run until I start gasping almost uncontrollably, and then I walk for a while so I catch my breath. This is, as Richard Simmons used to say in those videos from gym class, is called the "cool down" period. After that, I go through my stretch regiment again, and then finally wind up back on the computer where the blogging happens.

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