This I Believe

Linda - Oak Park, Illinois
Entered on September 7, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: sports, work

The Glory of the 30-Minute Run

We were sitting in a suburban Italian restaurant—the kind that serves plates heaped with amounts of food no one should eat in one sitting. Naturally, the subject of exercise came up. My husband and I, and our two close friends, were all parents of young kids. Wasn’t working in a regular workout an almost impossible achievement?

Rather than nodding in solidarity, one of our foursome offered up a recent personal triumph. He’d been getting up early, before work, and taking a short run a few times a week. He’d started with 20 minutes. He’d been adding distance and time little by little. He was feeling good and enjoying himself. It wasn’t that hard to fit this in.

The idea sounded shockingly simple. Put on shorts, a t-shirt, and running shoes, and head out the door.

The time commitment sounded perfectly manageable. Carve out an extra half-hour every couple of days.

I could do this before my husband left for work. He’d be on call for our 1- and 3-year-old daughters. I’d get some exercise in before the day-long exercise of hands-on parenting left me drained on the couch.

I started with 20 minutes and gradually increased to 30. I started with a t-shirt and shorts and graduated to sweat-wicking thermal running pants and layered tops. I committed myself to three or four half-hour runs each week, regardless of rain, snow, sleet, or dark of night. I found some running friends to help motivate myself out of bed on the coldest, darkest winter mornings.

Six years passed.

The friend who started out running 20 minutes ran the Chicago Marathon.

Other friends completed half-marathons, marathons, and triathalons. They set their sights on new challenges and increased their distances.

I turned 40.

The specter of the end of my fourth decade tempted me to join the ranks of those who were setting landmark physical goals. The prospect of spending more time with friends drew me into a few, longer-than-average group runs. These were short-lived flirtations. In the end, I’ve simply kept my original commitment, logging 10 or 12 miles a week, 52 weeks a year, year after year.

A friend of mine is running this year’s Chicago marathon, and I believe in her. I believe in the benefits of positive change and in inspirational goals. I also believe there is glory to be found in the consistent commitment. There is glory in the regular, 30-minute run, just as there is glory in the daily exercise of parenting and in the regular contribution of an honest work day. This kind of glory is normally celebrated at funerals.

I believe in recognizing it a little sooner.

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