Ode to a Workout Leader (Entry #4)

Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., I pulled into the parking lot at the University of Saint Joseph.  The first group track workout.  A few people were milling around, but I was, sadly, in the right place.  I’d been running, but it was time to find out what kind of shape I was in, since there would be other people running at the same time.  How many times would I get lapped?

After some quick pointers, we began warming up and then started running around the track.  Sometimes we stopped to do some form of calisthenics, pushups, situps, burpees (an aptly named exercise if there ever were one).

Running around a track is sort of like running on a hamster wheel, but a lot flatter and without the benfit of the wheel part.  Four laps to a mile.  It seemed like a long four laps.  Four long, lonely laps.  These are the sort of running laps that usually very quickly become walking laps for me.

But today was different.

Normally, when I run, I’m alone with my thoughts.  This is not always a good thing.  My thoughts sound like this:  “Why am I running?”  “Is that a stitch in my side or do I have appendicitis?”  “Is my foot really on fire?”  “This would go much faster if wolves were chasing me?”  “I think jogging is really Yiddish for ‘runs like a turtle’ ”  These thoughts, in case you couldn’t tell, are not conducive to a long run.

But, instead of being alone with my thoughts on Saturday, I had the luck to have two different workout leaders accompany me on my jog.  I’ve changed their names to protect their identities and created a composite character I’ll call Maya Ellen.

Our group features workout leaders, former Team Training New England athletes who come back to help during the group workouts.  They offer tips, encouragement and space themselves out amongst the athletes to keep them company (and from getting lost).

During my “I think I can” moments around the track Maya Ellen and I talked about, well I’m not sure what we talked about, but it kept me going.  Lap after lap, chatting away, I didn’t stop.  Instead, I kept going.

Now, this isn’t rocket science.  The idea of doing things as a group has long been a keystone of successful programs for weight loss, learning, building pyramids and exercise.  I just haven’t had a workout buddy for many years.  Now I had Maya Ellen to jog away the hours.

One hour later, I had run…actually I’m not sure how far I ran, since being on a track, I didn’t get very far.  But, it didn’t matter, because I didn’t stop and that was a nice little victory to put in my pocket at 8:00 a.m.

Published May 2, 2013