I started running at fourteen. Decades ago now.Three of us jogged around the neighborhood on balmy summer nights, ducking through sprinklers and talking about boys we liked, but who never liked us back. We walked when we felt like it. We didn't wear watches or Garmins or heart rate monitors. We didn't know how far we went or how fast. It didn't really matter. When did that change?
Other people ran, but not that many. One of our classmates slowly plodded down our street in full makeup, inexplicably clad in nylons under her shorts. Our dads ran, more competitive than us, their forties chasing them. They were faster than we were, but we didn't care. If people passed us, we didn't mind. When did that change?
For these runs, we wore whatever sneakers we had and regular old shorts and T-shirts. The only "jogging bras" were the same ones we had, until a company came out with a white monstrosity that you had to struggle into. We didn't have compression tights, we had baggy sweatpants. But we didn't care. When did that change?
When I got home from running, I didn't think about the calories in whatever I ate. I didn't categorize myself as "bad" or "good" depending on my food choices. The scale didn't have the power to ruin the day. I didn't think fatfatfat, although honestly I could never have been called fat in my life, even though I often feel that way. When did that change?
I'm not saying I want to go back to fourteen, with its associated crazy. I like some high tech gear which makes it possible for a more enjoyable and safer experience. I like adding up miles in my head sometimes and meeting goals. But sometimes I miss the simpleness of doing what I felt like for as long as I felt like it. No drumbeat in my head saying exercisecaloriesstrengthtrainstretchYOGAwas this enoughexercisepushupsWHENDIDYOULASTRIDEYOURBIKEranoncethisweekTENMINUTEMILES
AREYOUKIDDINGME?isthatallyou'vegot? I miss meeting at the bottom of "Barry's Hill" on those simple summer nights, the sound of sprinklers a gentle metronome.