I hate running.
I actually hate cardio in general.
At best, it’s a necessary evil.
And I’m not good at it.
But it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017, so I’m giving it a try.
Somewhere in the mists of time (10 years ago) I had a vision of myself as in-shape.
The me in this vision lifted 3-4 times a week, could regularly squat and bench press his bodyweight, and ran 2 miles three times a week.
Fairly modest goals, even for a busy adult.
But here’s the thing.
I was never that athletic, not even in my teens.
This isn’t a case of a former college (or even high school) athlete aiming to regain a fraction of his former glory – no – this is a never-was trying to build new muscles out of willpower alone.
The excuse when I was a kid?
Exercise-induced asthma. I had a few attacks – even went to the hospital twice.
Cardio was the only thing that really set me off – sprints, or worse – swimming.
My two worst asthma attacks – the hospital visit ones – happened in the water. One was in the deep end of a pool. The other? The middle of a lake.
But time moved on and I outgrew it. Haven’t even carried an inhaler in 20 years.
At my absolute peak conditioning – senior year of college, I could barely jog 2.0 miles.
Hard to be better at 30+ years old than you were at 20.
But in a way, it’s an advantage – that I wasn’t a high school track star means that every single mile is a triumph.
It also means I don’t have to compete against a ghost.
Since Jan. 1, I’ve run four 5K races and a 4-miler.
I’m proud of myself, even as I’ve shirked consistent training.
Bottom 15% of men in my age group (and overall). Thoroughly mediocre.
But, as I wrote last month, sometimes mediocrity doesn’t matter.
What matters is that I run at all.
Because it’s hard.
And it takes discipline.
At the end of the day the only person I’m competing against is myself.
Last week I ran a full 3 miles without stopping to walk once. It was a personal record — a triumph, even if I came in slower than several full 5K’s where I’d taken breaks to walk.
Somewhere in there is also a metaphor for life – we’re all progressing along this journey just as a runner puts one foot in front of the other to move forward.
But at the end of the day, my biggest realization so far has been this:
Running serves as a great gut check for the overall balance of my life – days that I run generally turn out better than days that I don’t.
That is enough.
* This post originally appeared yesterday on Quora.