When You Can’t Beat ‘Em

Just over a year ago, you may have seen me roll my eyes or exclaim, “Why would anyone do that?” when told of yet another friend venturing into the cold Moscow streets for, of all things, a jog.

Outdoor exercise in below freezing temperatures! What!? My first concern for my friends was (I didn’t just think they were crazy and weird; I worried their life was at stake, and friends are hard to come by as a foreigner!. . .)  the invisible black ice. Here, it really is invisible. It’s lurking under that 1/2 inch of freshly fallen snow or that salt-covered patch that turned out to be dirt covered instead.  You learn how to mutter “I’m okay. . . ” as your husband tries to lift you from your hard landing, but then he falls, too. We’re an unidentifiable mess of scarves, down coats, boots, and mud. My friends wanted to run on this ice. I imagined a bundle of spandex, sneakers, and head bands. They must be crazy. . .

And yet, I joined their insanity. What made me forgo all my no-exercise-please convictions? It was the Moscow winter. You know the kind. Moscow winters are like a homeless dog. Sure, its got fleas, but it’s kinda cute. It follows you around. While one eye looks at you and pouts, the other shoots around like a googly. I mean, what am I saying? The Moscow winter, it’s like a dead dog. No, it’s more like a zombie dog. The dead kind that never die. Like I was saying, if follows you around, eating all your chocolate and doing its business in your soul’s corner.  Spend two seasons with this pup and you just might be desperate to take it to the pound, too. You won’t even care if they put it down, not that they could, because it’s a zombie. So, I started jogging. People say it can shake the dog.

A homeless dog, you know, the zombie kind

A homeless dog, you know, the zombie kind

Don’t judge this old jogging hater. I know it can feel good to never worry about athlete’s foot and stinky everything and special get-them-sweaty-outfits, and other weird things like energy gummies (or worse, energy gel packs–Please give me my ridiculous amount of calories in chocolate!)

I have officially experienced all of these things now. And I’m here to say, it’s not that bad. Except for the energy gel packs–Okay, I haven’t had one, but they look really gross. After the first three months, jogging is, well, fun. When people say, “It felt so good to go for a run today” I realized they may not have been kidding themselves. Even I have felt that way! More than once I have even wanted to go for a jog.The key here is after the first three months. Three times a week for the first three months was HORRIBLE. I wanted to die. The phlegm build-up in my throat was enough to make the dog think I was one of his kind. For the first few runs, I coughed and gasped and choked on the phlegm. I tripped. A lot. I cried. A lot. #whyrunningisactuallykillingyourselfslowly

Then, one day, it was a beautiful day in April, I realized I wasn’t choking on my own body’s excretions. In fact, it wasn’t hard to keep moving or breathe. It was kind of nice to be outside and go wherever I wanted to go. The sun beat on my face, cut grass sweetened the air. I ran for something like an hour that day and it was INCREDIBLE. I think I now know what endorphins are. WOW.

Summer running came and went. Fall was delicious. And then the icy winter was back. I tell you what, it feels good to dodge all that bad black ice–It’s really not so hard. It’s kind of like growing up learning how to drive in the snow: you figure it out and then have a good laugh at Florida when they cancel school for a dusting. I’ve joined the insanity. Next up for jogging: dodging the dog poop under all that melting snow. What? That doesn’t sound like fun to you?


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