a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gym Class

Gym class was my demise. I was a goody-two-shoes in every aspect of my life, except gym class.

I had asthma and allergies. I lived with parents who smoked and large, hairy dogs. I was a walking Kleenex ad.

When I refused to go to school in 7th grade, you can bet it was on a gym day.

When the class was told to run the mile in 8th grade, guess who walked, slowly?

Give me a pencil and paper in gym class and you really created a monster. When we started the bowling unit during junior year, I was the one who wrote “Mac Bites” on the score sheet. Mac was our female gym teacher’s nickname—are you starting to see where I was coming from?

It wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I really started to become physically active. I live in a smoke-free home with a hypoallergenic pet. My asthma is well managed and my allergy symptoms are nearly non-existent.

I didn’t start running because I found the activity itself enjoyable. I started running because I wanted to coach Cross Country at the middle school in which I teach. I started running because I wanted my pre-thirties figure back and I knew I would have to work for it. A good friend (with a good figure) told me she doesn’t enjoy working out, but she works out because she craves the feeling she gets after working out. It was that idea and that idea alone that got me going and kept me going for a long time.

Even today, as we pulled up to the gym, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m not really feeling this running thing today. I have a headache. I think I’m dehydrated.” I started building up excuses to push myself less than usual. Though, somehow, I dragged myself in. I got on a treadmill. I walked.

But today was different. Today, I surprised myself. Walking truly wasn’t enough. I needed to run. I never thought I would say or think that, much less feel it. But it’s true. I need to run. I’ve been running on the treadmill regularly for years now. Out of obligation. Out of necessity. Not out of the pure joy of running.

One of the t-shirts our Cross Country team considered getting this fall (from from http://imagemarket.com/), carried the mantra that I realized today is true for me:

“I love to run. It makes me smile. I think I’ll run another mile.”

I love to run.


  1. I feel that way after a bike ride. I too run, but have yet to really enjoy it. The biking though is a wonderful feeling after my first mile! Enjoy and keep running.

  2. I'm hopeful that I will also love to run soon! I am currently chasing after the elusive "runner's high!" Maybe tonight? :)

  3. This was wonderful! It is right on time because my seventh graders came to my English class complaining about P.E. (that they have EVERYDAY). They said that they like to run and participate in sports, just not everyday in 90 degree heat. I can't say that I blame them.

    May I have permission to share this with them?

    Thanks again for the laugh!

  4. I'm with you1 I HATED gym, except the year that we had Fran Sovack who didn't care if we were good or not. And that was my junior year of high school. I didn't get a pair of serious running shoes until I was in my 20's, right after I gave up smoking. I have written about this, but feels like there's a slice in the air.
    Thanks for pushing me back in time,

  5. What a great Slice! I seriously laughed out loud over the first scenes. I recall them all too well, only mine were taking place in my elementary school years. And, like you, I now love to run. It's in my blood, and while I have been on hiatus, I am on the road to re-committing, and I can't wait!

  6. I ran cross country in high school, and though I have had many false starts trying to consistently work out again, I get what you mean by the great feeling after a good workout. I loved the mantra at the end of your post!

  7. It is fun to get so much feedback on my writing! What a fantastic community to be part of. "Thinking Aloud" please feel free to share- even if you are using my writing as an example of what NOT to do; it is here to be shared!

  8. It's that time of night to prowl the Slicers and see what they've been up to all day. Yours is at the top of the charts today, so how fun to see this lovely (and accurate) description of PhysEd from a child's perspective.

    I don't know if I'll hit the place where you are, but I do feel like the day's not begun without a good walk in the morning. It's what wakes me up and gets me in the mood to grade. Or do lesson plans. Or go grocery shopping--all vital and less that thrilling tasks.

    Thanks for the great post--