I have a stringent running schedule. It's like clockwork. It's a little OCD, really.
For about seven consecutive months I run 3 to 4 times a week. I'll work towards a half-marathon, one either in my hometown or a short drive away in Ottawa.
After the race, I'll intend to take a week off and begin training for a full marathon imagining myself an uber-fit 40-year-old smoking all the twenty-something's who run races thinking they know what it means to be in shape.
But, inevitable, after the race weekend something important comes up: like a once-in-a-parent-of-young-children's-lifetime dinner and a movie with my wife. I'll skip running that evening. (I never run in the morning. I know there are parents of youngsters who wake even earlier than their kids to work out. Those parents are just plain crazy.)
The morning following "date night" (which is really just sitting next to each other in bucket seats rather than on the sofa, and watching a really big silver screen instead of the TV in the den), I'll sleep in and have a slow breakfast. I justify that laziness as an extension of Date Night.
A couple of days later I'll skip running because it's too hot. I'll skip the one after that because of some sort of appointment; and the one after that because I haven't blogged frequently enough due to my rigorous training.
Then I'll take 7 months off because I'm discouraged and out of shape.
So it goes: 7 months on; 7 off.
Jogging in Morning Light by h.koppdelaney via Flickr
I'm at the tail end of the 7 months off, and I'm feeling it. My back is stiff after watching The Newsroom back-to-back to True Blood. My shoulder hurts when I lift one of my kids (remember when you used to lift both of them simultaneously? Are they bigger, or are you older? The answer is 'yes'.) Every twenty minutes or so, I flex my neck muscles and turn my head - the move is followed by a satisfying cracking noise where my head meets my body.
I need to get back out there. But, boy, I really don't want to.
Why can't running be like sex? Why can't I remember how good it felt last time? I think the reason is because, where running is concerned, I spend the first ten minutes thinking "this *&@n' sucks!"
There is a fantastic rush which accompanies a good, long, sweaty workout. Unfortunately, it will take me at least two months of training to get to a place where I feel I'm doing more than working my way towards a heart attack.
I remember how running gave me more energy. I remember how once I became active, I wanted to remain active and was therefore a more productive father, husband and human being. But, man, at the end of the day I'm just too pooped.
My daughter begins kindergarten in two weeks. As a result it will be the first time in 7 years both kids will be out of the house for thirty-one hours and forty minutes each week.
I'll have no excuse.
Certainly not when I face that group of moms who gather outside the school brandishing Lululemon running gear and Bluetooth headphones linked to their MP3 players.
I have an MP3 player.
And shoes with a little bright red velcro tag with my home address and phone number on it so the medics know who to call once they revive me.
Some parents find the time, others don't.
Some parents make the time, others can't.
How do you do it? Do you do it?
I know I should, especially now that I have the time.
Of course, we're redoing the entrance way this fall. I don't know how long that will take...but I can certainly arrange to work on it for thirty-one hours and forty minutes a week.