I can run.
There's been a bit of a revolution in my life over the last six weeks. It comes down to this: I am running.
Look, it's a long story. But my motivation is fueled by the thought that I don't want to limit myself, which is something I'm very good at and very practiced at, and have done over lots of years. Old habits are being changed, largely as a result of re-reading Dr Sarno on chronic pain. It's exciting.
But there's another motivation in the fact that I have a really fit 15 year old who keeps inviting me out to run with her. I take that as a compliment. Wouldn't you? (It's that or admit that she just wants to 'fix' me. I choose the compliment.)
The difference between us comes down to this: 20-something years and 20-something kilos. And it's extremely obvious when, after our third time around the oval, I'm puffing like an asthmatic and sweating like a, well, let's be honest, a pig. She, on the other hand, uses our two minute break to practice two-footed jumps up the steps, in training for the Iron Woman competition at our local Small Town Show.
Why haven't I run before? Lots of reasons, but the biggest one is this: Pain. I just don't like the muscle ache and the groaning from the heart and lungs and the misery of thinking, "Gah, if I can only get to the end."
To combat the pain I now have a few techniques. First, I focus on the parts of my body that aren't hurting. At this point, there are essentially only two: my ears and my elbows. So I think about them the whole way around the oval. Ears and elbows, ears and elbows, ears and elbows.
The second technique is to try to imagine how I want to look when I run. Obviously, I don't want someone to look at me and think 'hmm, grunting, shuffling bag of heavy'. I'd prefer to be a lithe, loping gazelle. So I imagine myself all gazelle-like and, what do you know? I run just a little lighter.
The third technique is to tell myself that my brain is taking a run. My body is just coming along for the ride. Basically, brain runs the show. Body can put up or shut up. My brain wants my body to be strong and powerful, and its in charge. (My lungs don't like it, but everyone's happy on day two when that lovely tired muscle ache kicks in.)
"Maybe my aim will be to try to be as fit as you," I said to my daughter tonight, as we walked back from our workout, me red and dripping, her hardly breaking a sweat. I didn't mention that, at this point, it would appear that achieving that goal is about as likely to happen as me swimming to New Zealand.
She raised her eyebrows. "Good idea."
I got cheeky. "What would happen if I ever caught up to you?" I said.
"You wouldn't," she said.
"I might," I said, a little miffed. New Zealand isn't that far away.
"No, I mean, if you did, I would run faster," she said. "I would run myself to the point of death than let you win."
Clearly, she inherited her competitiveness from her father. She also obviously has something to prove.
"Don't worry, " I said. "It's unbelievably unlikely that your death is imminent."
The fact is, I'm still celebrating the fact that I've got sports shoes. Not only that, I'm actually putting them on my feet and using them. I can run.