I remember posting jovially a few years ago, about how I figured out how to prevent black toenails: stop running. At the little gym that I joined when I first moved back to Wisconsin in 2005, I ran just about every single day. I am a routine-oriented person, and I remember waiting outside the doors in the crisp morning air waiting for them to unlock the doors. I would claim two pieces of cardio equipment because usually I was the only one there and I had that power. A half hour on the elliptical trainer, and at least a half hour on the treadmill afterward.
Cardiovascular exercise has always been a sort of a love/hate entity in my eyes. I read a book once that spelled out the two main types of exercise (cardio and strength training), and how people usually have a preference for one and hate the other. The book went on to say that the type of exercise one hates is typically the exercise that person needs to change his or her body (which makes perfect sense because a person is more likely to do the perceived “enjoyable” exercises and avoid the other…duh!).
I have loved strength training for as long as I can remember, and I suppose that one of the reasons I love it is because my muscles respond quickly with very little work. I forced myself into cardio every day at that gym because I knew that I needed it, that my body had become too efficient at power walking and kickboxing as my forms of cardiovascular exercise.
I hated the mile run every single year at school…loathed it, really. I know that I couldn’t finish it without walking, and I know that I was always toward the last to finish. Granted, I was extremely overweight and out of shape, but those early perceptions stick with you. After several months of running three or more miles a day, I woke up one morning excited to hit the treadmill. Was I an accomplished runner at the time? Not at all…but I had proven to myself that I was capable of finishing just about any distance goal I put in front of myself. It just takes a little determination.
I stopped becoming a daily runner after an emergency surgery in 2006 kept me from regular exercise for six months. I just never got the bug back after that, and the voice of chronic pain took the place of the old childhood defeatist in me, telling me that I just couldn’t run, not anymore.
This year, Nick went and signed me up for the Nike+ Human Race (much to my chagrin). I was not happy about this at all. He still saw the girl he met who loved how running made her feel. Didn’t he know that I had learned the vocabulary of “I can’t”? If he knew, he certainly didn’t care. the Nike+ Human Race was a chance for runners across the world to participate in a 10K race all on the same day, October 24, 2009.
Resigned to the fact that I was signed up, I started running regularly: at the very least, I wanted to finish the run. The first two weeks were ridiculously painful, but I had a calendar printed for myself to follow, and I was committed to that schedule. By week three, I was feeling markedly better, and I started appreciating the strength of my legs rather than cursing their bulky existence. By week four, I was addicted.
The Nike+ Human Race was last Saturday. Where I struggled to finish 5Ks just three months ago, I finished a 10K with energy to spare. Am I an accomplished runner now? Nope, not even close. But at least I know that I can do it, and that’s a lot more special.
So much for my black toenail remedy.