Sometimes in our neighbourhood I see people out running. Most seem pretty serious about it. They’ve got the wicking shirts and brand name running shoes and running-specific water bottles and headphones. They’re cruising along at a good clip, working their rhythm, feet falling naturally onto familiar paths.
But sometimes I’ll see someone who does not fit that mold. Someone who is wearing faded yoga pants or a ratty old university sweatshirt, perhaps carrying their water bottle in their hand because they don’t have one of those fancy belts. Someone who is a little overweight, plodding along, maybe alternating between walking and running, especially on the hills.
These are the people that I find really inspiring. These are the people who are putting themselves out there, who are just trying their best. Who know that they have to do something active and they have to start somewhere and so they made that first step to make it happen.
When I drive past someone like this, I’m always thinking, You go. You do it. You are awesome.
Over the past couple of years I have done more and more sitting, and less and less moving. My yoga studio closed down and they moved the time of my tap class so I can’t make it any more. Our elliptical machine started bothering my knee, and my bike has had some technical problems. I’m working more and some days I push the end-of-workday so late I have to drive to pick up the kids, even though the school is less than a kilometer away. I’ve had to move up a couple of pant sizes, but more importantly, I huff and puff when I go up the stairs, and I can’t carry as many groceries as I used to. When I go for a walk with the kids, they have to slow down so I can keep up.
I know I need to do more before old age makes that impossible, but I find it so hard to get motivated. I really, really hate exercise. Running is absolutely out of the question. So I thought to myself, what kind of activity do I actually enjoy, what do I want to do enough to actually leave the house on occasion and just do it?
So far I’ve only come up with one small answer, and that’s ice skating. I love it, even though I’m terrible. And by terrible, I mean I can mostly stay upright and glide forward, but I can’t stop, or turn properly, or skate backwards. I’m a bit of a menace on skates, to tell the truth, but there is something about the crisp cool air of an arena that I like.
So once a week now I have been going to public skate at the local rink, and hit the ice for just 45 minutes or so. I teeter around the ice as others pass me – ladies doing two laps to my every one as they casually chit chat about an upcoming wedding; aging hockey players who crossover effortlessly as they cut between the other skaters; even the odd three-year-old, still learning but already able to zip like lightning around me, unafraid of falling. I plod around and try to avoid the ruts and pray I’ll stay on my feet – two weeks ago I fell so badly I ended up with a four by two inch black bruise on my hip, so deep and dark it’s there still. But I went back for more because it’s the right thing to do, the necessary thing to do.
When I’m on the ice I like to think that the other skaters don’t see me as an awkward obstacle to get around. Instead I like to imagine that to them, I’m like those beginner runners I notice and cheer. I hope they are thinking, You go. You do it. You are awesome.
Because if I can imagine them thinking it, then maybe I’ll start to think it too.