Monday, August 28, 2006

Runner's Anonymous

While Dinah was busy calling Camel, I was thinking about calling a taxi. I was also thinking about traumatized capillaries, hemoglobinuria, rhabdomyolysis, dehydration and acute renal failure. And I was having a great time.

The temperature was warm but not hot, the sky was overcast and at the eighth mile of my ten mile run the perfect breeze kicked in. My breathing was comfortable, my joints weren't too bad and I was starting to pass people. It struck me that there was no apparent correlation between body habitus and speed---I passed someone built like a greyhound but for most of the race I slogged behind a couple of hefty women keeping a steady pace. These are the folks the sports medicine docs call the 'fit fat', people in good physical condition who nonetheless are overweight. These women finished the race. Anyway, I finished with enough energy to put on a good sprint for the last several yards into the finishing shoot. The crowd cheered me on and it was terrific.

As I said, I was thinking about calling a taxi but my ride was waiting for me at the end after finishing about five minutes ahead of me.

I'm posting this because some folks have wondered what psychiatrists do for stress. I highly recommend regular, comfortable exercise with a friend. It's good for heart and the social life when you have someone you can vent to as you jog. Or just shoot the breeze.

For those of you thinking '"I could never do that" I say: You don't have to. In fact, to start an exercise habit you don't have to exercise at all. Don't buy running shoes or sports gear, don't invest in a gym membership, don't pay a personal trainer. Call a friend or two or three. Have enough people on your 'exercise partner' list that one or two will be available to get together. Start out two or three times a week, going for a walk or a bike ride. Do it comfortably so you can talk the whole way. Do not go out for coffee afterward! Give yourself permission to skip it once in a while without beating yourself up; just get back into it the next week. Once you get used to working it into your schedule you can then start working on intensity. Listen to your body and rest if you're in pain. If you're in pain consistently change your workout or see your doctor.

I'm pretty much recovered from my ten mile race, after a hot soak in the shower and a nap. One more notch in the twelve step recovery program for couch potatoes.