Five miles really isn’t anything. A very finite and relatively short number of steps and breaths. A tiny percentage of one’s life. Pick your feet up, put your feet down. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat until you are done. And you are done almost before you know it.
Doesn’t that sound easy? To someone fairly fit or who trains consistently, it generally is. To a person that isn’t particularly fit–or that is positively unfit–the experience can be everything but easy.
I ran five miles today. In a race. With a number pinned on my chest. I am not terribly unfit but my training has been very inconsistent this year so I am not especially fit either. I was looking forward to the race, but also dreading it a bit. I haven’t fit five full miles together all year. Until today.
You need to know this for only one reason–that if I can do it, you likely can as well. Yes, there are people with real health issues that preclude them from running at all. I’m not suggesting that anyone who has a serious health risk just lace up and try to put in five miles. But most people don’t have serious health risks. Yet. Most people can run or walk or bike or whatever. They just don’t. They have other priorities. Trust me, I have been there. Motivation is a constant struggle. But the science is pretty clear on this one. While there are no guarantees and sometimes exceptions, the fact is active people tend to live not only longer, but better. By better I mean they enjoy their lives more. They feel better physically and emotionally. In the long run, it is a far greater risk to not move one’s body than to move it.
Five miles really isn’t anything. But for you (or me) it might mean everything. It might mean the difference between an old age spent with serious chronic disease or an old age without. I might mean the difference between actually living into a happy old age or not living at all. It might mean the difference between enjoying the other things one enjoys for years to come or having that enjoyment cut short. Five miles isn’t anything, but it could change everything.
So why not carve out some time this week and find your five miles? Maybe it starts with one mile. Maybe it’s just walking. Maybe it’s in a canoe or on a bike. Your five miles can be on whatever you want it to be. Running isn’t for everyone. You don’t have to be like anyone else. Just move. It will improve your life. It will give you confidence and relieve stress and give you better health. And chances are you’ll meet some fantastic people and enjoy some real fun along the way. You’ll have stories to tell about yourself rather than stories about others to watch on the television. You’ll come to find that moving doesn’t just improve living–it is living. I mean, on a primal level isn’t that what separates the living and the dead? The living wiggle while the dead can’t. Yet so many of the living squander this basic gift of life–the ability to move. To get out and live life.
My last post I encouraged folks to run for Boston. I still think that’s a good reason to get out and move. But if you do that, I hope you get the pleasant surprise of finding out that really, you are running for yourself. We can honor and remember and inspire others, but the only life we get to live is our own. So live. Actively. Actually. Five miles. Do it.