The thought for this piece came to me on a run. It wasn’t even actually a run, far more of a half-run, half-stroll predicament that would have produced me extremely embarrassed a year ago. My pace was slow, and I had a heavy coat on that was weighing me down — mostly for the reason that I had intended it to be a stroll just before I got bored and began operating. It wasn’t something impressive, absolutely not a thing that would make a person assume that I was 1 of the captains of my track group in higher college.
But I was, and however when I exercising now it typically appears like this.
Quite a few of us right here are ex-athletes. Generally overachieving and browsing for the subsequent organization to join, we have been led into sports, and a lot of of us have been great at them, also. We have been captains and group leaders, we led teams to championships, and we competed at regional, state, and even national levels. We devoted numerous hours to our teams, committing hours just about each and every day of the week to practice. It was rewarding to see ourselves develop into so physically skilled: so quickly, so powerful, so agile.
But now we’re in college, and that is gone — not for all of us, but for the vast majority. With a new schedule, new clubs we really feel compelled to join, and no threat of a yelling coach, it really is simple to place exercising initial on the chopping block.
There’s a particular shame in not functioning out as a great deal as you made use of to, not becoming assured a worked-up sweat daily to make you really feel great about your self. In higher college, physical exhaustion was a symbol of accomplishment, and aching muscle tissues have been a supply of pride. A lot of us lack that now. With such a routine supply of achievement gone, it really is simple to really feel ashamed, or at least a tiny lost.
It is tough to recognize that you can not do as a lot of pull-ups, or that you can not run that six-minute mile you ran a year ago, or that you can not do almost as a lot of consecutive backflips. It hurts to no longer see your self as stereotypically physically match, in spite of these requirements becoming largely unattainable.
I’m not stubborn sufficient to attempt to fight against the truth that exercising is great for you. But demanding exercising is not the only way to be delighted, and it is also not the only way to take care of your physical wellness. It typically appears like the finish-all be-all, and soon after years of operating I typically struggle to accept it myself.
It wasn’t healthful to define myself by how quickly I could run a lap about the track. It surely wasn’t great to see how lengthy I could final just before practicing the hurdles got a tiny also risky for the reason that of exhaustion. Searching back, it was stupid to nonetheless attempt to practice when injured, and to really feel terrible when I missed even 1 exercise. What I believed was so healthful couldn’t have been any much less.
So now I attempt to bear in mind the other elements of wellness in addition to physical fitness. It is great to concentrate on how friendships can lengthen your lifespan, how spending time outdoors lessens anxiousness and muscle tension, and how consuming a assortment of foods provides you nutrients you otherwise would have missed. I open my windows when it is not also cold out and my water bottle is usually becoming refilled. I nonetheless appreciate exercising, but I’m glad it is no longer the only issue I worth in figuring out my wellness.
So alternatively of wallowing about your previous athletic days, as I so often did at the starting of my freshman year, expertise the seasons that Cambridge delivers outdoors. Seek out new and old good friends to just be about — even contact it networking if that motivates you. Attempt new foods, and if you ever just really feel like walking, really feel great about it.
I’ll continue to go on my unplanned half-runs, half-walks, exactly where my legs do not hurt incessantly and I have the power to appreciate my surroundings. I’ll retain enjoying jogging alongside the Charles river and taking images on top rated of the a lot of bridges that span it. These days, I know that that is great sufficient.
April S. Keyes ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Pennypacker Hall.