My friends were getting these little devices called fitbits and posting their steps walked, calories consumed, and even habits of sleep to facebook, twitter and any other social network in which they participated. I was intrigued.
Having not taken part in any regular exercise since 2007 (when Maia became too old for Baby/Mommy yoga) I was the most out of shape I'd ever been in my life. Climbing the BART stairs at Mission Street resulted in immediate breathlessness and sore muscles the next day. Walking Sam was a chore so I'd bring him to dog parks and let him burn off energy while I sat watching. This, combined with the fact that my daily "commute" is about 3 yards from my bed to my desk, had me wondering how many steps a day I took...
Fitbits are expensive so I ordered a good old fashioned pedometer off amazon for about $20 bucks and soon discovered that on an active day I took a total of about 2400 steps. The National Institute of Health categorizes less than 5000 steps as "sedentary" and 10000 as "active." I was officially sedentary.
So I started walking with Sam. I used an app called MapARun (available for free in the app store) to chart mile-long walks around town and began finding ways to add steps to my daily routines, but 10000 seemed absolutely impossible. Until one amazing day it wasn't.
Chaim Potok called ZEBRA that was partly about a boy who loved to run. He flew. His adoration of running was described so beautifully that the rest of the tale was lost to me. I could focus only on the boy who ran for the "sheer joy of feeling the wind on his face." I wanted to feel that too.
The first time I ran was towards the end of August. I'd been walking pretty steadily for a couple of months and I'd just read ZEBRA. In the lasts blocks of a 4 miles stroll something made me pick up the pace. Hop. Jog. I ran the rest of the way home. I broke a sweat. I could barely breathe. It felt great.
So I kept up the walk/jog routine for several weeks and soon found myself looking forward to that time. My walk/runs were turning into run/walks and then, just runs. Almost suddenly I could breathe during my exercise and by the 15 minute mark my legs, like Zebra's, would "feel wondrously light". I began tracking my progress with the Nike+Running App which was incredibly motivating. The first time I ran five kilometers I posted it to my facebook wall. Like my fitbit friends.
It's been about 5 months since the pedometer arrived at my door. For the past month I've kept steady at about five kilometers, four times a week. This past Saturday I managed five and a half miles in less than hour. Which is important because I'm running my first race - a 10k at the BerkeleyHalf - mainly to raise money for my daughter's elementary school (more on that in a future post) - but also to show myself that I can do it. (Which means, by the way, that you can do it too.)
P.S. You can read ZEBRA for free here - the first page is the one that had me running.
P.P.S. You can help me raise money for my daughter's school by sponsoring me in the Berkeley Half 10K. You can do that here. (There will be more on this in a future post.)