fake running

I’m supposed to be training for a 5k.

In my dreams, I run daily with my dog and volunteer at homeless outreaches on the weekends, flip houses and lift weights, write music in my spare time and get paid to be an idealist,  eat clean and make meals ahead of time, swear off unnecessary purchases and always make time for my friends, send care packages to my siblings in college and have soul-deep conversations with my husband every evening, keep my laundry off my floor and my head on straight, never have fruit flies in my kitchen, and run 5ks. I race them, actually, and in my dreams I am fast.

My real life, hard-core, poop-in-the-woods runner friends will be saddened to hear this, but my weekly mileage goal has dwindled to 20 miles. This is the part where they disown me — I count stationary bike miles in that total. And strolling half a mile to get a mocha once a week. I stockpile fake miles.

We just visited our beloved gym last night after an unmentionable amount of time. I was like a little kid on Christmas (I was like me on Christmas) when we renewed our membership. We decided that since we had fixed our cars and still had money, we would invest in our health. Actually, my husband recalled what it was like to live with gym-less, stir-crazy me last year and decided it was worth the splurge.

That’s my theory; he has neither confirmed nor denied the claim.

AND THEN the house happened. Most of my workouts now involve punching plaster out of ceilings and dodging the ceiling chunks lest a family of squirrels come sailing down.

But I have missed the gym. The weights, the workouts, the conversations – even the dreadmill. Working out with my sister, a genuine NCAA basketball player, has helped me develop a more systematic approach. Instead of doing whatever I feel like doing, I formulate a plan full of percentages.

This is far more sophisticated than the plan I developed in college, when I measured workouts in scoops of cafeteria ice cream. When I was done I would scan the little digital numbers with bated breath . . .  “OH, praise the Lord. A two-scooper.”

My sister scoffs at the scoop system of measurement. When my doctor told me to gain weight last year, it was her ticket to drag me into the real weight room. Doctor’s orders were to get big

Through the process, I’ve become shockingly middle-school-boy about my lifting. And I’ve learned that the Lord was right to outfit me with string-bean limbs. I don’t know if my vanity could handle having nice muscles. Alas, all this lifting has no effect on my appearance, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

The best way to get to the gym is to disguise myself as someone who goes to the gym. This kids my subconscious into thinking that I want to go to the gym. I eat a light meal and chug a cup of coffee and do what millions of t-shirts around the world tell us to do — I drag my tookus out the door. I mean, I just do it.

The key to just about any workout burnout that I’ve encountered is to disappear into the woods without any measurements. Maybe that’s what I’ll do. Before the ground freezes and the sun starts setting before my workday is over, I’ll take off with the dog and head deep down in the wilderness with no schedule except to make it back out of bear country before dark.

And then I’ll schedule that 5k.

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