Health · Running

Reclaiming a lost year, one hour at a time

Before I could run, I had to learn to walk again.

Not in the literal sense, mind you, but in the way that you really have to teach yourself how to put one foot in front of the other and go.


An extended break from all things fitness/activity/health had taken a huge toll on me. I wasn’t sure where to start or how I was going to break myself out of this funk, this time, after running maybe 20 miles total in 2015.

Lucky for me, one of my best friends recommended Orangetheory after hearing that a studio was coming to New Orleans. Each class is focused on cardio and floor work with weights, TRX straps, and bodyweight exercises. It’s a combination of pilates and what I’d describe as the Caffeine Free Diet Coke version of CrossFit.

Participants wear a heart rate monitor to gauge levels of exertion and effort. The goal is to stay within a heart rate zone just below your maximum, coded as orange on a scale from resting to near-vomiting, for a targeted amount of time per class.

So much of my first class was spent walking, not yet running, in that red zone, the near-vomit one, that I questioned my sanity and why I’d ever allowed myself to stop running.

Over the past three months, I’ve made progress and have regained a great deal of aerobic endurance. Sure, I love/hate the sessions, and the weights portion doesn’t exactly satisfy my athletic side that’s completed a 300-pound deadlift, but that doesn’t matter. This was finally the thing, the solution, it seemed, that helped me learn to love running again. I’ve felt so much more balanced and sane since mid-January, thanks to the work I’ve put in.

But just for a second, back to that part about allowing myself to stop running. I think we all go through periods like this.

The hardest part is taking those first few steps, feeling the soft squish of nearly-new Brooks Adrenalines as you take cautious, baby-deer steps at four miles per hour on a treadmill lit from overhead by an orange lamp. You have to show up and do the work. Start where you are.

Those first steps sucked. The second, third, and fourth sessions sucked. But things clicked and I reclaimed an important part of myself with each session. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but I remind myself:

I am becoming more like myself again. And more like the person I really, really want to be.

So here I am, writing again for the first time in months and happily sharing the good news about finding my groove. I’ve filled pages of a notebook with blog ideas since late 2014, but have waited (for what? Who knows) to act and start writing again. Consider these words my first few steps.

I’m near-barfing in that red zone, but I’m showing up to do the work.


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