This may be a startling admission to some of you, but the last time I did any sort of regular physical exercise was nearly 15 years ago, during my first two years of medical school. Back then, to relieve stress brought on by anatomy, pathology, and life in general, I would jog up First Avenue in Manhattan from my dormitory on 30th Street into the tony neighborhoods of the Upper East Side, then reverse course around 82nd Street and retrace my route home. During my third and fourth years of medical school; family medicine residency and fellowship; clinical, government, and academic careers; and a recently completed Master of Public Health degree, my running for fitness became increasingly sporadic, then ceased entirely.
I can't pinpoint exactly what inspired me to start exercising regularly again after so long. Certainly, I'm not a spring chicken anymore, and there are limits to relying on my abundant genetic fortune (both of my paternal grandparents are going strong well into their 90s) to prevent future health problems. Maybe it's because half of my Facebook friends are doing 10Ks, or at least it seems that way. Maybe because my sister-in-law and her husband, both several years older, just completed Ironman triathlons. Maybe I'm tired of counseling patients my age or younger to make time for exercise when I'm not walking the walk myself. (And since it's day #5 after more than 5000 days of physical inactivity, I am mostly walking, though my goal is to slowly but surely get myself back into running shape.)
The fastest I've ever been was at age 14, when I clocked personal records for the mile (5:25) and 3 miles (18:39). I don't expect to approach these again. But this time I'm not aiming for fast - I'm aiming for slow and steady and keeping it up for years and years. I won't turn this blog into a runner's diary, but I thought I'd give you a heads up about what I'm doing amid my posts on clinical and policy issues and broadsides against too much medicine.