When I was in Junior High, my overly-chatty and track-obsessed history teacher asked me if I was going out for track. No one had ever suggested that I take on a sport at any other time in my life (in fact, my parents, though supportive, were never upset when I quit all the various sports I played growing up) so I found this shocking and very odd.
“I don’t run.” I told him, then went back to my book.
A few weeks later, I had to go to the Principal’s office for something, and the school Superintendent cornered me and demanded to know if I was going out for track. I had been going to this school for about four months, had played no sports, and was mostly concerned with reading during class and not getting caught. I was not sporty in the least.
“No.” I told him.
“Why not?” He asked.
“I have weak ankles.” I told him, and left the office.
It seemed like making up a medical reason was the only thing that would get these people to leave me alone. I still am not 100% sure why all these grownups wanted me to be in track. The only reason that makes any sense is that they knew my dad is a runner, but it seems weird that they would think I was too.
I didn’t actually start running until I was about 25. I was working at tv station and got a discount on a gym membership, walking on the treadmill one day got a little boring, so I ran. I didn’t like using the machines because there was always some bitchy woman staring you down, or some little old lady just sitting at one watching tv–so I just ran every day.
My friend and former co-worker/fellow gym-goer, Danie (who is presently training for her first 1/2 marathon), used to surreptitiously follow the personal trainers around as they were doing sessions, and nab free training advice. When she told me this, I was quite impressed and remarked that I should do the same.
She scoffed, “You just run like someone’s chasing you.”
I used to run to my piano lessons pretending that I was being chased by wolves, so really, she wasn’t far off.
While I was participating in my recent medical study, I was required to have a physical. I haven’t really had a lot of physicals in my life because I never played the sports that required me to get one, and I don’t like to go to the doctor. I dislike going to the doctor primarily because I often don’t have insurance, but also because I always feel like I’m wasting his/her time since there’s never really anything major wrong with me. Unless I’m bleeding from the eyes, or have an obviously dislocated body part, I feel like I should be able to just wait out whatever I think is wrong with me.
This time I had to get a physical because they wanted to make sure I was fit enough to get drunk. The doctor came into the room, asked a few routine questions, and took my blood pressure.
“You’re resting pulse rate is very low.” He told me, sounding slightly concerned, “Do you run a lot?”
Something inside my head went zing, and I realized I have finally achieved low resting pulse rate–tangible evidence that all of my hard work has paid off.
The deal with the low resting pulse is that it’s basically a measure of fitness. The lower the better because if your heart can pump as much blood as you need with fewer pumps, that means that your heart is stronger. Lance Armstrong’s resting pulse is 30, as is Dean Karnazes‘–the man who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Average is 65-75, mine is about 53.
“I do run a lot,” I told the doctor, “Actually, my dad’s resting pulse is so low that they won’t allow him to donate blood.”
At this the doctor got excited, “So it could be genetic as well! And his father?”
I just shrugged, “He never went to the doctor.”
Then the doctor took my pulse manually, and because I was so excited about this news it had sped up.