Nothing delights me more than a sing-along. I don’t care if you’re an opera singer or a shower warbler; there is bliss in adding to the joyful noise, to being part of the wondrous whole. It’s not just me; since my youth (and probably even before then, if such primitive technologies existed!), you could “follow the bouncing ball” and sing along with a song projected onto a screen.

This happy thought occurred to me today, but from a new viewpoint. (This is the perspective that exercise brings us, boys and girls – isn’t that wonderful?)

I thought to myself – what the hell does the bouncing ball think of this?? Is it FUN for the bouncing ball to outline the “doo-dah, doo-dah” of “De Camptown Races?” No, the bouncing ball is probably annoyed and tired and demeaned.

And what brought this to mind?

Running, of course.

I plod along like the bouncing ball, so someone else could sing a particularly slow and plodding song to my locomotion. Hot Cross Buns, perhaps. Thump, thump, thump.

“Eggshells,” Barbara said hopefully at my side. “Pretend you’re running on eggshells and don’t want to break them.”

I shot her a look of murderous incredulity.

“Well,” she said soothingly, “What if you were running on ice? How would you not break through?”

“I’d slow down,” I gasped. “I’d walk.” Thump, thump, thump, went my feet thickly. My gasping breath added a little ragged syncopation to the percussion. Eggshells. Like I could place my feet in any way other than helpless stomping. Impact tremors in the surrounding groovy apartments and little houses caused unseen strangers to wonder if the t. Rex was coming after the goat again.

Look: Between you and me, I admit that I was hoping that trotting up and down my stairs would have made a difference – that doing intervals on the elliptical would have smoothed the way. Barbara assures me that they DID help; I never would have made our run-some-walk-some loop a year ago. I hold on to that the way a child clutches a teddy bear when there’s definitely a monster in the closet; I know the bear isn’t going to be much help, but it’s all I’ve got.

And I was hoping that Barbara would say “Oh, I see the problem – you’re not…” and then she’d say something that would correct all the awkwardness and thumpiness and gracelessness, and once she corrected THAT, then I’d be fleet-footed Atalanta, laughing over my shoulder at all those who chased fruitlessly after me.

In fact, she advised me to keep my ribs down and focus on my abs. And my glutes. Okay. (That’s the answer to EVERY SINGLE EXERCISE so we’re not exactly breaking new ground here, but you have to learn to run before you can run. If you’re with me. I’m sure there are keener refinements in my future.)

Thud, thud, thud – walk, walk, walk. Barbara noted later that I’d offered to start running again sooner than she’d suggested; she interpreted this as enthusiasm. I confessed that I was just trying to get the whole dreadful thing over with as soon as possible.

But I WANT to be able to do this. I am tired of being humiliated. I’m willing, at the staid and august age of 58, to plod around in full view of a disgusted public if it’s possible that I could stop feeling like the Sing Along With Mitch Bouncing Ball. And I want that to happen SOONER rather than LATER.

I wrote to Grace (my Body Dynamics trainer on Wednesdays) to tell her I was going to try to run/walk today’s route tomorrow before our session, so she should plan on not needing to give me anything to do for cardio when we meet, but Barbara put the quick kaibosh on that plan. MAYBE I can run again next week, she says, after we see how my body responds.

(I’ll tell you how it’s responded – I’m wiped out, and my thighs tremble when I go down the stairs. And you know muscles ache more the day AFTER exercise, so by tomorrow, I should be fully incapacitated. Fun for Grace to work with me like that!)

I hate running. I gasped the question at Barbara as we headed back to the barn. Is it possible for someone who hates running to learn to love it? Has she ever known it to happen?

“YES,” she replied with such conviction that I’m quite sure she was lying. Never mind. I plan on being the first.

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 8.42.30 PM

A statue of Atalanta. Nicer to look at than Sing Along With Mitch.



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