I've gotten a lot better since moving to New York City with counting walking as a form of exercise. I mentioned a little bit in my post about big-E Exercise vs. little-e exercise, but it feels worth mentioning again that it took a while for me to be comfortable with the fact that I can't run. It also came to mind when I was reading the Fat Nutritionist's post about gym class, and the plethora of people who, like me, hated running the mile.
Oh god, the mile.
See, I'm not fast. I can sprint decently well, maybe get through a hundred-yard dash. But I just don't keep up momentum very well. When I jog, I really don't go very much faster than I walk. I just tire out a thousand times faster. An actual flat-out run just doesn't last more than a minute or two. So, of course, gym class decided it had to grade me on how fast I could run a mile.
It took me about 15 minutes. The good news is, I don't remember anyone making fun of me for my lack of speed. In fact, I remember people cheering me on - as I was the last one on the track - and trying to encourage me toward the finish line. But I remember the pain. It hurt terribly, in my chest, in my throat. In that little spot under the hinge of the jaw where it dries out if you run too hard and you can't actually get any water into that spot when you're drinking. If they had let me walk the mile, it probably would have taken about the same amount of time - but I wouldn't have been in so much pain.
I remember collapsing when I finally hit the finish. I just fell down onto the track, grateful for not having to run any more. I remember my gym teacher trying to tell me to walk to cool down now, as if I could even stand up after all that running. I just stared at her.
I remember everyone else was in good enough shape to play floor hockey after the mile. I refused.
And yet, I've never been a bad walker. I remember a charity walk for diabetes that I did with my mother that was six miles long. I didn't even get all that tired until mile five. These days, I'm walking 20-30 minutes most days just to get from my dorm to my campus, and on days when I don't have class, I find myself taking the walk anyway to get it in. I can go around museums or theme parks or shopping malls for hours and hours on end, alternating walking and standing and doing just fine. It's only running that kills me so bad.
And I've had to get used to the thought that walking is still exercise. I'm still getting out there and moving around. It's just slower. It's not so very much less worthy than anything else that I could be doing.
Recently, I saw that a friend of mine is putting together a team for a walk-a-thon for the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. My first thought on seeing the plea for team members was a slight panic from not knowing how long it would be. When I found out that it was a two-mile walk, I relaxed. I joined. I'm actually looking forward to it. A nice long walk with several of my friends, a pace that I can keep up and also chat and hang out, or put music on if I so chose. It actually sounds really nice. I'm just still reflecting on the fact that I'm looking forward to an event that involves 2 miles of exercise.
(Those who are interested - with no pressure of course - I am trying to raise some funds with my team membership. Any little bit helps. The team as a whole is aiming for $5400 and reached $700 at the time of this writing. My personal donation page can be found here.)