A few days into January I toyed with the idea of going for 2,017 miles in 2017. A couple of Colleen’s teachers who are also runners were going for it. Averaging 5½ miles a day sounded completely doable under their rules, which allowed running mileage to be supplemented with FitBit steps.
I don’t own (or desire) a FitBit, and there was this plantar fasciitis problem to contend with. But even with no running I was getting 5 miles a day just doing five 15-minute walk breaks.
Somewhere along the way some of those short quick walks morphed into more diverse activity sessions. I’d do a quick Tabata cycling or kettle bell workout, or set the stopwatch on my phone and just pick up sticks in the yard for 15 minutes. In doing so, I realized that I really didn’t spend that much time outside if I wasn’t running or riding my bike. In fact, I really didn’t get that much exercise at all, some days, outside of running. As a writer, a lot of what I do is pretty sedentary stuff.
These mini sessions became a real respite from the day. Whenever I felt stressed out or hit a roadblock, I’d get up and set my timer and just walk around or go do something. In the process, I stopped caring about mileage. Needless to say, I’m no longer on track for 2,017 miles. Like old Jiko in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, I let that big fish swim away.
One day last week I realized that even though walking down the driveway to the mailbox has become part of my new routine – one of my tiny attainable goals for this year was to resist stopping the car at the end of the driveway to get the mail – I’d never once in 15 years of living “out in the country” walked out to get the morning paper before breakfast.
Now, we subscribe to three newspapers (five, if you count the recent addition of digital access to The New York Times and The Washington Post), so it’s not like there’s ever any shortage of brain food at the breakfast table. But there’s something quaintly old fashioned about heading out on a cold dark morning to fetch the paper before I get the girls up for breakfast.
It’s a very small thing. Just one of the tiny unexpected pleasures that have come from laying down a backbeat of activity in my day. I can’t wait to get back to running. But when I do, I hope I can think of it as adding the melody to a pre-existing tune rather than an obsession that makes me anxious if the numbers aren’t there.