You Can Run, But You Can’t… Dine

I should establish something up front. I’m not “a runner.” I’m not one of those people who enjoy it. I’m not fast. It’s not easy. It doesn’t fill me with a sense of freedom. I started running because I’m not getting any younger, I appreciate good food and drink, and I have a “desk job.” So some aerobic exercise seemed like a good idea. I’ve tried joining gyms (I give them my money and quickly stop going), bicycles (every home we’ve owned has managed to be up a hill), and my low tolerance for “pre-workout-work” combined with crappy Seattle winter weather convinced me I needed an indoor solution at home.

So, years ago, we bought an elliptical. I used it irregularly, and Dawnise never loved it, so when we moved from our house in the Seattle suburbs into the city we sold it and bought a treadmill. In theory the treadmill folded, and would take up less room in our more compact urban space. Even folded it still took up much of the room it was in, but it fit where the elliptical wouldn’t have. I convinced myself to work up to running a couple miles three mornings a week. I never really learned to like it, but after a while I built a habit, and would bring running shorts and shoes on business travel and mostly stick to my routine.

That all changed when we moved to London. Our initial apartment had an exercise room, and I used it for the month we were there before moving into our “permanent” space. We don’t have a good space for a treadmill, so I looked around at gyms. The fees seemed too high a price to pay for access to a treadmill – and I knew I’d likely stop actually going pretty quickly anyway. The prospect of running through London’s crowded streets and using my lungs as a fine particulate filter for London air didn’t appeal.

All that changed a couple weeks into the pandemic. The streets in our part of London are pretty empty. The air quality is notably improved. And I wasn’t even getting my 20 minute walk to work each day. So I woke up one morning with a plan to go running. And quickly realized that I didn’t have anything suitable to wear to go running when it was 3 degrees out (high-30’s in “freedom units”). I asked a couple friends who run what I needed and “went shopping.” From my sofa, of course.

A quick look at Amazon left me discouraged – running base layers aren’t essential goods, and delivery prioritization meant nothing would arrive for a month. By that time this crazy idea would have subsided. Which would be good for the lazy bastard in me, but probably not good in general.

One bit of advice I got was to avoid cheap synthetics and try a merino wool base layer. That bit of advice, combined with my inherent, um, frugality, led me to – who had what I needed on sale for a price I was willing to pay, and even claimed I could get it in a few days. True to their word, and frankly to my surprise, the package arrived only a day later than promised and the next morning I hit the road.

Turns out running on the street isn’t quite like running on a treadmill. And it turns out that I don’t know how to self-regulate my pace. I ran faster than “normal” and could only run about half my normal distance. I chalked it up to the elevated pace and 8 months of being sedentary. I’ve gone a bit further each run, and this morning I ran to St. Paul’s and back – which is about what I’d have run in the spare room in our townhouse. Despite reaching 22 today (72F) it’s still cool in the morning, and the wool base layer has worked well.

I figure as long as exercise is still a legitimate reason to be out, I’ll keep running. I’ll have to see how I feel when the weather turns in the fall – it’s hard to imagine choosing to run in the windy rainy cold – but frankly fall is so far in the future it hardly bears thinking about.

Who knows what the world looks like by then.

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