Recently, I attended a Lululemon design meeting. I am fortunate enough to be one of their research and design ambassadors, and am asked to give feedback once or twice a year on their products. The person running the meeting is usually from out of the area, and there are always questions about what types of activities we participate in and how active wear fits into our lives. Andrea, the meeting leader this time around, posed a question I have never given much thought. She asked us, “what drives you to run?” (This was a meeting specifically for runners).
People had a variety of answers, ranging from, “it’s my escape,” to “because I can,” and I made some quip about how I am an energetic person and running saves my marriage, but the reality of the situation is it’s what I do. I don’t think much about the role that exercise plays in my life. It’s simply a constant. I think about my schedule at the beginning of the week, figure out what I have time for, and plan my workouts accordingly. It’s on par with eating and sleeping. My brain is not wired to ponder, “how am I going to fit anything in this week;” rather, it is a matter of when. My schedule is a bit rough right now, and I often have days where I have 7 or 8 clients, graduate school obligations, and all of the other responsibilities that go along with running my own business, such as workshop marketing, returning phone calls and e-mails, and billing, but I always have time to do something. Sometimes it’s not as long as I would like, and sometimes I have to be creative with when I do it, but I always fit it in. I become impatient when people tell me they don’t have time for exercise. I don’t understand how people can neglect their bodies, the vessel for movement they are stuck with until they expire. It should be the single most important aspect of a person’s day; instead, it gets shoved aside for things like work, television, and socializing. Exercise makes me more productive, less stressed, and improves my sleep. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to experience the positive benefits of exercise, but being tired usurps exercise for the average person.
I exercise because it gives me an opportunity to be outside, alone with my thoughts. Running and biking are moving meditation, and I enjoy the solitude. While I participate in those activities, I don’t identify myself as a runner or cyclist. I don’t exercise for the social aspect, although for many people the social aspect is what motivates them to get out there, and being part of a larger group is often a great way for people to stick with something they might not otherwise. I have often wondered if all of the world leaders took 8 weeks to train for a ½ marathon together, if more compromises would be reached. Endurance exercise reduces negative thoughts and quiets the mind in a way that other activities don’t. Your problems just don’t seem that dire after an hour and a half on the bike. I move daily because it makes me strong, enables me to experience the world in a way a person can’t if he isn’t in shape, and keeps me relatively pain free. I practice yoga and strength train to keep my body healthy and prepared for the challenges of the trails, and I don’t consider it work, although it can be uncomfortable. There is something deeply satisfying about accomplishing something that scares me, and it’s what keeps me returning to the yoga mat, the bike trails, and the weight room. I plan on exercising until I can’t anymore, and I am hoping that day doesn’t come anytime soon.
Thank you Andrea for making me examine a part of myself I hadn’t considered in many years. And thank you to all of my clients who, regardless of age and ability, make time to exercise despite busy lives. You inspire me every day.
Yours in health and wellness,