Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Exercise in Letting Go

My parents stayed with us this weekend, and I promised myself that, as soon as they left, I would start training.  I sometimes casually mention that I’m doing a big run this year – either by saying, “I’m going to Argentina,” or, “I need to train for Patagonia.” 

It wasn’t until today, however, that I linked my physical fitness to minimalism.  What happened today?  I received an email that featured a minimalist wallpaper with the following quote:

One Day or Day One.  You decide.

It clicked into place for me the fact that, like my Maria Von Trapp list of favorite things, the fat on my body, my bones, and my muscles, are all things I get to choose whether or not to keep.  (Yes, kittens and warm woolen mittens are on my list, but that’s beside the point.)

The realization that Patagonia isn’t merely a once-in-a-lifetime event, but the opportunity to change my future physical health, has been lurking in the back of my mind for a while.  My friend, who we’ll call Kiwi Girl in the theme of the blog, has already done two 250-kilometer races, so I get to benefit from her advice.  But she can’t train from me.  And nothing I learn from her will help me if my body isn’t conditioned to carry 25 pounds for 25 miles a day over six days.

Training for a big event is not new to me – I ran a half-marathon in 2010 – but this is beyond anything I’ve done before.  I knew that I will be seeing a major physical transformation between the time I begin training and the actual race in November.  I also know that, if I maintain that physique, I am likely to live longer, better, and more fully.

I started training on Monday – two 20-second planks may not sound like a lot to many people, but to some, like Lizard Boy, it seems not only difficult, but wholly distasteful.  After talking to my brother, though, I realized that this thing I’m training for isn’t a 20-second-plank kind of race.  So yesterday I did nine reps.  Today I’ll to 10 at 30 seconds.  I’ve already done three, so seven more doesn’t sound so bad.

But the training itself is really just a means to an end.  Like paying off debt is the jump-start to living a debt-free life, Patagonia is the jump start to living a healthy, active life.  Like cleaning the house doesn’t keep it clean, neither does running a race keep your body fit.

This particular post probably won’t go down in the hall of fame as best-written posts on this blog.  But I wanted to remember what it was that made me realize that, like my possessions, my body is something I own.  I can choose to keep it like it is, or I can let go of the things that have made me feel cluttered; the extra pounds and the weak muscles; and I can replace them with something more valuable to me, that I take care of and that continues to spark joy in my life.

I’m tired of saying “one day.”  Today is Day One.

(Technically Day Three, but it doesn’t have the punch that last line has.)

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