Keep It Moving

My interminable unemployment may be coming to an end. That will bring financial relief (I hope) but it also brings concern. I worry that going back to being a chair-bound writer will of necessity turn my newly toned muscles to jello in a matter of weeks.

No longer will I have the luxury of scheduling a day’s events around a two-hour run, or a longer ski romp through idyllic conservation land. Instead, I’ll be back to squeezing in time for fitness because I have to. That could wreak havoc with my enjoyment of the day’s outings — I never enjoy the things I have to do, so running or biking becomes more like washing dishes or vacuuming.

There’s the option of commuting to work by bike, which always sounds better than the reality of it. I’ve tried bike commuting from time to time (never having the flexibility to commit to it as my sole means of transportation), and I always face it with a mix of enjoyment and dread. I don’t mind cold mornings or packing or making extra time to shower at work. It’s the unknowable population of drivers that gives me pause. Are they drifting toward me because they’re texting? What if the next car is driven by a student on her permit like one of my kids? What consistency of paste would I become if that cement truck moved six inches closer and pulled me under its wheels? And why the hell do some people have to honk their horns behind me — because they want to see my middle finger??

skinny wheel commuting is an exercise in stress control

Yesterday on my 20 mile round trip commute to EMS, I was nearly smeared on the pavement twice, the first time right outside my house by a guy in a pickup truck who didn’t want to give me room to avoid the storm debris in the gutter (I will publish license plate numbers in the future!). The second time was by a sweet looking mom who had twins tucked into car seats in the back of her Prius, but who didn’t bother to look behind her when she backed out of her driveway. (Lady, if you’re reading this, I accept what appeared to be your sincere apology while I screamed at you.) And to think I ride because it usually makes me feel less stressed!

Still, incorporating a workout into a purposeful daily routine appeals to me more than getting home at 5:30 and trying to carve 45 minutes out of the evening schedule for a jog or to dive back into rush-hour traffic for a bike ride (yes, mountain biking is preferable to battling with traffic, but it’s still mud season– see previous post). Add to that the information from this NY Times article that says working out for an hour isn’t enough to negate the effects of sitting on your ass the rest of the day.

In the best of all worlds, I’d be making twice as much money at my menial retail job (which I love, really I do!) to which I can commute to by bike and where I remain active throughout my shift. Another five years of that and I might achieve the optimal physical condition I’ve been working toward for 20 years. But this being the real world, I’m hoping this desk job I’ve been offered comes through, because gainful employment will probably in itself extend my life more than the effects of my Zen state of unemployment (and risk it less than bike commuting).

We’ll see about that desk/treadmill combo that would allow me to log more miles while typing, assuming I can muster that kind of coordination.


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