OK, I’m glad that I have returned to running three times a week. I won’t lie — running is a good stress reliever. I love the treadmill. Shin splints I do not love. Even after stretching for about five minutes or less, my right shin kills me. Sometimes I run through the pain, and other times, I wuss out and hop off the treadmill. So, before hopping on the treadmill, I have been stretching for a little longer than five minutes.

Do you know what I realized when stretching my ancient body? I’m not in high school anymore. I’m not as limber or flexible when I was in high school. Trying to touch my toes with my legs in front of me is really difficult and takes some energy (which I hate to admit). I remember the days when touching my toes was effortless and felt great. Now, I’m in pain and frustrated. If I stretch and run every day, will I be as flexible and limber when I was in high school? Just a thought.

When I was in middle school, I remember I couldn’t wait to become an adult because I would be tall and have authority. Well, that didn’t happen. I’m five feet tall — technically, five one, but people are more likely to believe me when I say five feet. A couple of months ago, a co-worker asked me if I would be considered a midget if I was few inches shorter. Two supervisors who overhead the question gave him the stink eye and the incredulous “I can’t believe you just said that” look and then gave me permission to hit him.

Anyway, I’m not tall. And I really don’t have any authority over anyone. Except my cats. Eh, who I am kidding? I don’t even have the heart to kick them off my bed when I’m leaving the room. I spoil them. So, if I’m not tall and don’t have any authority, I’m really not an adult by my own standards. For the past couple of years, I’ve been freaking out about turning 40 (which will happen in four years) and I’m not really sure why I’m freaking out. 4. 0. Numbers. I guess I never thought I would turn 40. Wow. Just the thought kind of makes me want to cry. Maybe it’s because I don’t act my age. Maybe I don’t feel 40.

The other night Charlie and I were watching a movie about a high school reunion or something, and both of us admitted that high school was not our favorite years and would not go back if we had the chance. High school wasn’t miserable, but it wasn’t great. I think sports — volleyball, cross country, track and field — really helped me survive those years. I wasn’t the best runner on the team, but I was good. I loved running. I loved the competition. I loved everything about cross country.

And maybe that’s what I miss when I’m feebly stretching my old limbs. Maybe I miss the things that I used to be good at — I used to be flexible and limber. Stretching wasn’t a struggle for me in high school. Stretching now is just exercise in itself. Sad, but true. I used to run six- or seven-minute miles. Now, I’m happy if I can make it under 15 minutes. I could sit here and list all the things I used to be good at OR — or — I could do something about it. I might not be able to run a six-minute mile again, but I still have the ability to try. Maybe I will get back to my fighting shape again. Maybe I can be more limber again. Maybe. For now, I’m just taking my adult life one day at a time.

Categories: Jennifer Elliott

2 replies »

  1. I have these same thoughts occasionally. I miss my youth and I wish I had been wise enough to know I would miss it so I could pay more attention and really ENJOY it instead of being in a hurry to grow up. Apparently my grammar skills haven’t improved with age because that was one long sentence.

  2. As another five-feet-tall woman who’s turning 41 in a couple of weeks, I can identify with a lot of what you said here. I never was much of an athlete, but it was much easier to excel in high school than in the adult world. But I still wouldn’t want to go back to high school either.

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