I went running for the first time in 15 years. The last time I ran was back in junior college where I was fit enough to complete my 2.4km run and all the other stations (yes even standing broad jump) and got a pass for my effort. When I left junior college, I abandoned running the way I abandoned Chinese language when I passed my AO levels with a B3. If you know me well enough, these 2, albeit barely scraping through, are my greatest achievements in my youth.
Over the past 15 years, I toyed with the idea of exercising. I thought of running but I blamed the imaginary pain in my knee. I tried swimming but my inner ear starts to burn after 20 minutes in the pool. I hate the gym because the machinery intimidates me. I made all sorts of excuses for physical exertion. I often joke that the only running I’d ever do is if I were to run after the bus. The last time I was forced to run was some team-building activity where we practically spent an hour running around a hilly area looking for clues and shit. By the end of the activity, I was fit to murder somebody, whether is it the course coordinator (who heard me mutter FUCK THIS SHIT) or the cameraman who was filming us running back to the finishing line (who hesitated when he saw my face and quickly lowered his camera), I was so dizzy from running it really didn’t matter who.
So I carefully maintained my weight by watching what I eat. As much as I love food, there are some things I’m wiling to give up, like desserts and high calorie Coke. I still did a lot of walking whenever I commute to and from work daily. However that went up in flames in December when I got a car and all facade of exercising stopped. I felt my waist expand and I hold daily conversations with my belly telling it to take a hike. The killer moment was after white water rafting in Bali, we had to climb up 300 steps and I almost fainted midway. As I sat there panting in the sun, I asked myself what the fuck was going on? I may not be good at running but I never had problems with stairs. I used to chug up the escalator in my heels for crying out loud. what’s 300 steps in Bali?
That’s when I decided it’s time to get serious about exercising. For a person in her 30s, I’m seriously unhealthy. Nevermind that, I’m getting married next June so there’s no way I’m walking down the aisle and suddenly keeling over from exhaustion. For 2 weeks, I thought a lot about exercising. If only thinking about running burnt as much calories as actual running, I’d be a 42km gold medalist by now. Then I decided to motivate myself by getting some running gear.
I mean, why not look good while you’re at it. I got myself Nike exercise gear (on sale) at a small sports shop at Marina Square near the cinema (support small businesses!). While trying on the pants, I was befuddled as to whether I should be worrying about VPL while exercising, and whether one should get tight or loose fitting exercise pants. Clueless, I mentally flipped through my friends’ list to see who can help me with exercise gear conundrums. Pathetically, I could only think of one. I whipped out my phone and texted Germaine and asked her all important questions on how one’s ass should look while running. Germaine was amazingly patient with a noob like me. Coincidentally she was at her gym getting ready to run or something. Already I felt like the heavens were giving me a sign.
The exercise gear then sat at the bottom of my wardrobe for a good week before I decided to pull out my running shoes. If you noticed the date of the receipt above, I bought my Asics running shoes in 2006. for 5 years they sat in their box untouched under my bed collecting omens. For the first time since then I opened the box and breathed life into them. I packed everything into a bag and told myself I had no reason not to exercise anymore.
This morning I was happily snoozing when 3 idiots decided to honk simultaneously at one another. this went on for a good minute before the other neighbours got out of their houses to shout at them. We have a neighbour who’s perpetually shouting at his dog / cat / child / wife / his own reflection every evening so I immediately recognised his voice as he told the 3 honkers to shut the fuck up in Hokkien / Mandarin. I was lying in bed wondering what was going on until I realised that I was awake, and had no reason to procrastinate anymore.
So up I got, put on my gear, loaded my running music, and went down. Since it’s my first time in F I F T E E N years, I decided to take it really easy. Although it was pretty late in the morning (9am), the sky was overcast so it was still not too warm. I decided to take the scenic route along the canal and started my run.
I ran for a good 5 mintues until I felt a burn in my left calf. I slowed down to a walk and frowned at how weak my stamina was. I thought the first to go was my breathing but I wasn’t panting yet before my calf started to hurt. I walked for another 5 minutes and started running again, only to have my calf burn up immediately. This running business wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t going anywhere.
I decided to walk most parts of the way until the burning sensation went away. I saw another runner glance my way and I thought “hey I’m the new runner on the block!” That motivated me enough to quicken my pace again so I ran another few metres until the ache came back again. While a part of me guessed that this starting and stopping probably isn’t a good regime, another part of me told myself to go easy because it’s not easy to start an old engine that has been idling for too long. As all that was going through my mind, I glanced at the people having breakfast at Macdonalds before forcing myself to pick up speed again.
In all, the agony took no more than 25 minutes. I took a short and safe route just in case I collapsed, I wouldn’t have to drag myself very far to get home. A very slow, but at least it’s a start, to getting healthy again.