My legs are burning and heavy. Breathing deeply hurts just a little bit, and it takes a little extra effort to lift my legs with each step. After about six months without much exercise, I went for a run this morning.
It’s 5:45am. The 18-month-old is awake and crying. He goes back to sleep without much coaxing, but I feel oddly awake. Instead of forcing myself back to sleep I decide to listen to my body and stay out of bed.
It’s cold out, especially before sunrise. I put on a bright red sweatshirt, hat, and gloves, and head out the door for my first run since the summer. Running in this weather is so much different than it is in the blazing sun. It’s kind of nice.
The crisp winter air hits me like the waters of the Atlantic during a polar bear swim. Jolting, but refreshing. I breathe deeply, slowly through my nose. The cold numbs the inside of my nostrils for a half second, and I can feel it make its way down to my chest. I smile.
It’s quiet at this hour. Most of the town is still tucked into bed or just waking up, perhaps making their morning coffee. There’s not a cloud in the sky and the stars are shining brightly. The sun won’t shed its first light over the mountains for another hour and a half. I’m alone in the dark.
My breathing is heavy. I’m past the point where each deep breath of the cold air sends a shock to my lungs. With each exhale I can see my breath condense into a wispy cloud briefly, then dissipate. The lenses on my glasses fog while Trevor Noah’s voice calmly narrates his life story in my ears.
Only fifteen minutes into the run and I’ve already slowed to a jogging shuffle.My legs are heavy like I’m wearing concrete blocks on my feet. My mouth is dry and sticky Is it the weather, the fact that it’s my first run in six months, or a combination of both? Last time I did this I had no problem running 5k in less than 30 minutes.
At 25 minutes into the run I stop running, far from my usual 5k with only 2.4 miles logged. I start walking home feeling good. Despite being defeated in distance and being betrayed by my body’s weakened stamina, I know even just this small amount of exercise is good.
This morning run may be the start of a new routine.