My 2013 exercise regimen started in earnest on Groundhog Day. It involves taking my ten year old Labrador on a three mile hike every morning up one of our neighborhood hills. Solo morning exercise usually puts me in somewhat of a trance...a state of creative thought, a stream of consciousness that is only interrupted by motor traffic or wildlife using the same lane.
This is at least the thirtieth time I've resolved to get back into a regular pattern of cardiovascular exercise... after short lapses of slovenly behavior that include: eating, drinking and lounging during most of my waking hours, often clustered around the end-of-year holidays. Never fails, I annually come back to the realization that it's the first mile of any aerobic outing that's the toughest.
Fifty years ago, at age thirteen, I joined the high school cross country team. I was nine when we moved to the suburbs, this was also the beginning of my battle with asthma. Running and asthma combined to make efficient breathing my highest priority. Coach Spade always waited for us, stop watch in hand, at the one mile mark of our much longer training runs. He'd say, "Chuck, how is it going?" and my answer was always the same, "The first mile is always the toughest."
A good syncopation between footfalls and oxygen intake would develop somewhere between mile two and mile three...just in time for me to start catching (picking off) the string of runners ahead of me. This was always too late for me to have impressive results in an actual meet. Over distance training runs were my forte. Any competitive rewards I might have felt were my own private victories...there were no medals for coming in third in a fourteen mile High School training run.