What the health?

Let's get something straight, right off the bat: I'm not a "health nut." Far from it. However, as one who within the coming week will be celebrating the final birthday in which he can still claim to be in his fifties, the last decade has been peppered with more – shall we say "dedicated" – efforts on my part to remain in fairly good health.

While I've been fortunate enough to remain relatively healthy most of my life (in spite of thirty years of smoking and even more perfecting the fine art of beer-drinking), the last few years seem to have been earmarked to remind me that I'm not quite as young as I used to be.

For instance, in my quest to remain active, three years ago I joined a coed softball team with my youngest daughter, Nicole. The first time we ventured outside to toss the ball around, I noticed that my right shoulder was experiencing an increasing level of significant pain with each throw I made. Long story short: partially torn rotator cuff. Ouch.

Then, about a year ago, in an apparently over-exuberant effort to get back into shape by aggressively resuming jogging (a habit which I began to seriously embrace after quitting smoking in 1999), I became painfully aware that I had incurred a stress fracture in my left leg.Déjà vu. I mean, it was "ouch" all over again.

Becoming obvious to me that no longer could I simply flip the proverbial "health switch" whenever I needed to drop a few pounds, I realized it was time to take action (cue the Rocky music). So, about six weeks ago, when it appeared that my left leg was ready to give it a go – and not realizing that our entire winter was going to remain rather mild – I thought it best to start the long road back indoors as opposed to out.

Even though up until now I'd always done all my running outside regardless of the elements, this year I didn't want to risk that one potential slip that might set me back another six months. So I joined a gym.

Of course, there's a distinct trade-off for the luxury of running inside in a controlled environment. When you're outside, the scenery changes along with the elements. Sure, it can get boring, but it's nothing when compared to the journey on a treadmill. Excruciatingly boring. It's like everything else is moving but you're not.

Here's a good analogy: Ever see a zombie movie where the hero/heroine is running full-tilt in order to get out of Dodge before the zombies use his/her brains as an appetizer? And the zombies – being recently deceased and all – are all struggling just to stand up straight, bumping into each other, essentially having a rough go of it. Usually their progress is impeded by a weak leg (no doubt a stress fracture) – nevertheless they still are gaining on the hero/heroine. Seriously, what's up with that, anyway?

The point is this: That's how you feel on a treadmill, friend. Running your little posterior off, but getting nowhere fast. Not only that, but I'm flat-footed, so I run like Frankenstein. Yes, it's an insult – to Frankenstein. When I approach a bank of treadmills, the machines seem to instinctively gather together in defense.

Anyway, I started out week one at four miles of treadmill torture a day, increasing a half-mile per week. I'm up to seven-and-a-half miles now, but I sure hope the weather breaks soon.

I think the treadmills are considering mass suicide.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits.

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Volume 4, Issue 5, Posted 1:21 PM, 03.06.2012