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I Love Being in Shape

Unfortunately, I am not as in shape as I would like to be right now. Unless, as the old joke says, you count “round” as a shape. But I am getting there.

Perhaps I am being a little hard on myself as I know I am far from fat. But, in August, while cycling, I was struck by a car. Happy to be alive, I was quite unhappy to have suffered a Grade III AC separation. For the uninitiated, that means my shoulder got all messed up and junk. For the month of August, I logged a total of 93 miles, 26.2 of which were a marathon. A fortnight of zero running and a few weeks of trying to get back into shape, while being amazed that my metabolism was no longer what I thought it was, left me with a few extra pounds which have stubbornly hung on.

When mid-December hit, I finished off a streak of 8 marathons in 64 days and had a whole three weeks off before my next go at 26.2 miles. With no traveling, no eating bad food at book signings, and being able to sleep in my own bed, I was looking forward to racking up the miles. Now, these were not arbitrary miles meant to pad my stats and feed my ego. You see, I am doing a solo running of the American Odyssey Relay in April, and will need to build my body up to handle the 204 miles I will be running from Gettysburg to D.C. So, these are necessary miles.

And as I ran those miles, I lost some weight. Running became easier even when I was doing two double-digit mileage runs a day. Clothing fit better, I felt healthier, and I reveled in my food choices. In my time off in August, I totally understood how easy it is to be out of shape. It requires, by definition, very little effort. It also gets easier as time goes by. But I never once was happy.

Now, I am happy. I still cannot do laundry on my abs yet, but I can no longer use my midsection as a half-globe. I am smiling. Birds are singing (metaphorically, of course. It is January.) I do not want to ever go back.

And if I have a Twix, well, I will just run a few extra miles.

Dane Rauschenberg is the author of See Dane Run, which recounts his 2006 feat of running an official marathon every weekend of the year in a different North American city. Running Matters is his new weekly blog for Blue Ridge Outdoors.

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