Put one foot in front of the other.

Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.
~Charles Schulz, Peanuts

I have wanted to be a runner for a long time, although my background consists primarily of walking. The first event I ever attended was a Crop Walk in my hometown of Mt. Carmel, IL way back in October of 1974. I don’t remember much about the day; I don’t even remember how far we walked – just that it was far enough that I was in a world of pain the next morning. Overweight and out of shape, I could barely navigate the flight of stairs down to the basement of my church, where Sunday School was held.

Has it really been almost FORTY years?

Four Octobers later I was in college, thinner and leaner, running occasionally with my friend Pat, who convinced my roommate Robbin and me to do a 5,000 meter run (5K) with her. Although both my friends left me in their dust, I believe I ran more than I walked and don’t remember suffering as much the next day.

Pat and Robbin
October 22, 1978

Then just before I graduated from college, my service fraternity organized an event for the March of Dimes called WalkAmerica. Again, I don’t recall many of the particulars, but I know I finished the course and had a great time doing it.

I’m the third from the left.
April 25, 1981

Since my divorce, my exercise regimen has consisted primarily of walking a three-mile route in my neighborhood, although the past couple of years I have also gone to a nearby Fitness 19 and run on the elliptical machine there. I enjoy it, but I not as much as I enjoy being outside, especially on the many beautiful, sunny days we have here in metro Atlanta. Inspired in part by my friend Denise, who calls
running “my prayer, my moving meditation, my saving grace, and now an opportunity to love myself,”(click HERE to read her delightful blog post on the subject), I have decided to mix running with my walking. Eventually, I hope to be strong enough to run an entire event.

Aw, who am I kidding? I would be impressed if I could run an entire MILE without stopping.

On New Year’s Eve, my brother, his wife, and my fifteen year old discussed our fitness goals for 2012, and we agreed to do a 5K together every month. We started on Sunday with Lakeview Academy’s New Years Resolution 5K up in Gainesville, GA.

Nathan and me.

The designated path was hilly, the weather was cold and drizzly, and I was not well prepared for either. Still, I managed to finish in just under 42 minutes. But the point is I FINISHED. I may not have a clue what “runner’s high” feels like, but I get a little thrill every time I get out there and go for it, pushing my body a little bit harder than I did the day before, running longer and longer stretches. And I’m trying not to complain about my aching muscles; they’re just letting me know I’m getting stronger, right?

I have big plans. My sister-in-law I just registered for a half marathon in April, and I may actually try to run (instead of walk) the Peachtree Road Race this July 4th. Yes, I’m hoping I shed a few pounds and lose a few inches in the process. But it’s really not about the numbers. It’s about gratitude for two strong legs, flabby thighs and all; for the sunshine on my back, the wind in my face, and the natural beauty that surrounds me wherever I go; and for a family that loves and supports me enough to run with me.

How are you going to challenge yourself physically in 2012?