Fitness quest gives lives to new kind of bug

By Stephanie Haines

A while back I noticed that my legs looked funny. I was concerned, as I’d never seen them look like that before and wondered if there was something wrong. Then it hit me — that’s what cellulite looks like.

I tried on a skirt that I had worn only two months before and couldn’t get it zipped. Clearly the situation was critical and I needed to take drastic action: I decided to start running. It seems so extreme. Why make myself tired on purpose? Do I truly want to run unless something is chasing me?

I thought it best to seek professional help so as to avoid injury. I have a friend who is an ultra-marathoner. That’s right; plain old marathons just aren’t enough. In 2013 when he was getting really serious about exercise, he decided to run the year. As in, 2,013 miles in a year. I told him that was like running to Denver and back (minus the mountains).

I went to the store dedicated to all things running. I found out that they’re really cool; I thought they’d have an attitude about someone who isn’t a serious athlete, but I’ve noticed runners tend to be so excited about it that they are interested in getting you to do it no matter what your level.

I figured the amount I’d spend on a good pair of running shoes was less than buying all new clothes, so I made the commitment. They cost about the same as 11 yoga classes; I think I can manage to jog in them at least a dozen times. The only other pair of athletic shoes I have are Grinch green. I didn’t want to mess up the bright color, so that was rather a disincentive to use them for jogging.

Then where to go? I thought the rail trail would be a good option as it’s gravel so I wouldn’t have quite as much impact as running on pavement. The problem with this idea is that parking for this trail is right down the street from a grocery store that sells good cheap pizza by the slice, making it possible for me to gain weight the more frequently I run.

I tried some trails on my side of town, but there were too many hills. Also, it probably wasn’t the best idea to try to jog with leaves covering the trail, as I kept tripping on tree roots and ended up with a few nose dives, scraping up my bony shoulder. (Why couldn’t I fall on my backside, which has adequate padding?)

I finally ended up in the park across the street. Even though it’s paved, at least it’s well-lit, flat and I can see it from my window. But the loop is .59 miles which makes it a bit of a challenge to calculate how far I’m going. (Really, City of Bloomington? You couldn’t have make it an even .60 miles? Let me just say that this sort of nonsense would never have happened in Greenfield!)

I started out doing a 15-minute mile, which is only marginally faster than I can walk. I’m currently down to 11 minutes per mile, and can say with confidence that I no longer run like a girl. That’s because I run like a middle-aged woman.

You know you’ve got the running bug when you see an attractive fit man jogging up the street toward you, and you’re looking at his shoes to see what brand he’s wearing. Now if only I can get around to running as frequently as I talk about it.

Stephanie Haines of Bloomington is a Greenfield native. She can be reached through her website, stephaniehaines.com.