Missing Fitness

I am no Olympian. My favorite thing about the gymnastics classes I took as a preschooler were the leotards I wore even when my weekly tumbling exercises were over. I was afraid that I’d snap my neck doing a somersault or cause some irreparable brain damage while dangling from the lowest uneven bar. I let the fear of injury keep me from glory. Some Vaseline-lensed Bob Costas segment I’d make.

But my gymnastics (and softball, and tennis) failings didn’t spell out a life of lethargy for me. Working in daycare and babysitting kept me moving in college. Once I started living the office life, I joined a gym. The girl who couldn’t wheeze her way through even a mile of running eventually got through one. Then two. Then three. Then… well, I could do three miles pretty reliably.

Until earlier this year, when I started getting knee pain after runs. Then I was diagnosed with runner’s knee. In a couple of weeks I’m going back to the specialist because the knee hurts like a bastard when I do anything active. Which sucks so mightily I can’t stand it.

In my younger years, I’d relish the excuse to not be able to exercise. Oh, you want me to run a 10k this fall? Shoot, I can’t. Runner’s knee. Guess I’ll just have another beer. But now I’ve come to actually enjoy physical activity. It’s one of the few times I can disconnect from my phone and computer and just space out. I do my best non-linear thinking while my feet pound the pavement, or hands rest on the yoga mat. I dread doing it. But I’m always happier when it’s done.

There are also the calorie-burning benefits of activity. I work around a lot of very delicious food. Eating is one of my favorite parts of the gig. But I can’t consume restaurant food without moving and not gain weight rapidly. It’s a delicate balance. And with no way to burn off what’s going in, it’s thrown off and my belly will expand rapidly.

I keep attempting workouts and the knee keeps aching. Today, I took an Esplanade Association free fitness class but couldn’t help look at the runners going by, iPod earphones in place, taking in the beauty of the Charles River from various vantage points. I miss it. I can only hope the specialist offers a bit more help to get my knee back in alignment, so I can have my fitness come correct too.

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