The Ugly Truth About Getting Back In Shape

There is nothing romantic about getting back in shape.  I don’t care how joyous the lady on the Weight Watchers commercials looks or how thrilling it is to buy new fancy workout gear. When you get down to ACTUALLY getting back in shape – it’s a sweaty mess.

After I ran the Boston Marathon last April, I hobbled off of streets of Boston with my shiny medal and silver cape and rested comfortably on my laurels.  I patted myself on the back and said, “Good job, Julie, now you’re a true athlete!” And friends and strangers alike patted me on the back and said the same.

Turns out, one’s laurels is a cozy and hypnotic place to rest. The longer I stayed, the harder it was to get up and out running.  I told myself, “Who cares if I don’t feel like going running today, I ran 26.2 miles the other day!” So, I ran sporadically over the summer and fall. I took the winter off completely… because well, it’s cold. I’m afraid to admit, I think I fell asleep on my laurels!

Now, it’s mid-January and I’ve awoken to find myself in pretty bad shape. My clothes aren’t fitting comfortably.  Even worse, this time LAST year, I was out running 15 and 16 miles straight – no sweat (thanks to the handy log on the side of this blog for reminding me).

So, on Wednesday, I geared up in layers of warm clothing and went for a leisurely jog.  Eight minutes in, I frantically checked the time – worried I’d gone “too far.”   I was less than a mile from home, yet my lungs were scratchy and hot, my mouth tasted like I’d been chewing metal, I was spitting and breathing heavily. My back ached. My arms felt like falling off.  I stopped and walked for 4 minutes and then went back to running. In total, I walked/ran about 3 miles – maybe.

Later, I attended Yogalates class, which helped me stretch out from my run, but also worked certain muscle groups that hadn’t been worked in quite some time. In the middle of the night, I awoke with an excruciating charley horse cramp in my right calf. The next day, my entire body was sore to the touch.  Wow, what a warm welcome back exercise was giving me!

Yet, one of the best ways to get the lactic acid moving is….. more exercise!! So I will gear up today and go out to face the agony once again, knowing it will get easier with time, it always does. And crazy as it seems now, I will fall in love with running again, I always do.  All sensations, no matter how strong or uncomfortable, are transitory and will pass.  This is the greatest lesson I’ve learned from running, yoga and the discomforts I’ve experienced with narcolepsy.

If you’re going through hell, keep going!” -Winston Churchill


  1. thomas.flygare on January 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Everyone gets out of shape from time to time, even the greatest athletes — look at Big Papi. Your determination to get back in shape and your belief in its possibility are your two greatest assets in this struggle.

  2. Anonymous on May 25, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I'm glad I landed here! At this very moment, I sit with much the same lament after being sidelined and on crutches for the past month. clothes are getting tighter….sugar consumption is on the rise, and I'm siting more that ever before…since I can't do much on my feet. But, I will use this moment of commradery as a motivation to find other ways to get my body back in shape. Thanks for your honesty….I don't feel so bad for feeling a bit large in my clothes this spring!

    Ann in St.L.

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