What defines your sense of self?

I’m tall. I’m smart. I value kindness. I think I can define myself pretty exactly… and then I come around a corner and realize that all that is surface paint on top of a MUCH more rigid sculpture.

I’ve discovered that my sense of self is foundationally based on a truth so basic that it’s like my heartbeat – so omnipresent that I don’t even recognize it. And this is that truth:

Prudence don’t run.

I’ve tried. Really. This is the problem with running:

  1. Huffing and puffing. I can’t breathe – so that’s a minor challenge.
  2. Impact tremors, like Jeff Goldblum seeing the shaking in the glass of water in Jurrasic Park. When I attempt a locomotion in which both feet are – however briefly – off the ground, the slamming impact of my body back onto the ground is impossibly jarring. It’s uncomfortable to feel like you’re in a paint shaker.
  3. Humiliation. I know I look like a rhinoceros lumbering painfully up to trotting speed. I am not fleet – I am not graceful – I am not happy.

I’m not a runner. Some people are. I’m not.

And that truth, I’ve learned, runs through me like a subterranean river. If mad dogs chase me, I might just scream and then give up. Chow down, Fido – I won’t fight you.

But now I’m working with Barbara and Grace at Body Dynamics on my cardio endurance. I’m working with them on ellipticals, and when I’m not doing that, I’m trotting thuddingly up and down the stairs in my home.

I spend all of six minutes doing this, which seems extremely pathetic – until I think of it like this: It’s the same as running up the stairs of an 18-story building in six minutes. (This imagery requires a less-active pause every two flights, because after I climb the 28 steps from basement to second floor at my house, then I turn around and trot back down again, which is – duh – less exhausting.)

Anyway, I hate doing the stairs. I do it with gritted teeth. I run fueled entirely by determination, will power, and sisu. So pretty soon, when Barbara tells me I have to up my time from six to – gasp – seven minutes, I’m liable to rebel and outright refuse.

So what’s the answer? Is there a form of cardio conditioning that I could hate LESS?

And I’m terribly afraid that the answer is going to be RUNNING.

If anyone can teach me how to run without (a) huffing and puffing or (b) impact tremors or (c) humiliation, it will be Barbara.

I trust that she can do it…

…the question is: CAN I SEE MYSELF DOING IT??

Once again we see that the challenges in achieving health are physical – but LORD GOD OF CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING, they are also extremely mental.

So – if I can change my cardio fitness, can I also change my sense of self??

Stay tuned.

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