The sun was shining and temperature was 37 degrees on Saturday, and as I stepped outside to take out the trash, it felt glorious.
The training schedule, such as it is, called for a swim at the Woodson YMCA, but that plan was scrapped with the garbage. Especially when the predictions were calling for a deep cold snap starting Sunday, there was no choice but to do something outside.
There were three options as I saw them, each with its own list of pros and cons:
1. Take a walk, which is nice and relaxing, but always leaves me a bit itchy for more.
2. Take a bike ride, which would have been pretty comfortable with the balmy above-freezing temperatures. But the bike I ride in the winter is set up for cold and snow; it just seems clunky and slow in normal conditions, which is frustrating.
3. Go for a little jog, which meant breaking my promise not to run in the month of January. This running-fast is meant to promote the healing of some very sore Achilles tendons. Oh, but I was itching for a run, and if I ran really slow, it really wasn’t running, was it?
So it was decided. I would go for a walk, with short, slow bits of jogging thrown in. I walked the first block, then ran the second. It’s hard to describe how that felt, and for nonrunners, it’s probably hard to believe. But I hadn’t run since Dec. 22, and this block-long shuffle seemed like coming home.
I personally believe a human being has a deep-seated yearning to run that goes back to the caveman days, and even fat, old and slow people like me feel a bit more alive if they get past that initial getting-into-shape stage. I expected that old breathless, ugh-this-is-a-lot-of-work feeling when I started back jogging, but I went about 4 miles on Saturday, and it all felt great.
Most of Saturday’s run, admittedly, was walking. None of it was faster than a jog. I didn’t care. These were the first steps of a comeback, and even Buddy the Energetic Dog, who also has been suffering under the running-fast, could feel the potential of each step. He jumped and bounded and for a bit, in a closed off area, I let him off the leash. He ran ahead, then turned and ran back to me. He bucked happily when I slapped his chest. Then he tore off again.
Buddy on the run is joy personified, well, dog-ified. It’s long been my goal to “Run like Buddy,” that is, to run for the sheer pleasure of it.
On Saturday — even though I did not bound, did not run faster than a shuffle — I felt like I got there.
On Saturday, everything felt like it was going to be OK.