The dog days aren’t over: Indulging summertime lethargy is never the solution


Photo courtesy of Steve Kan

Jefferson junior and senior boys race at the PR Kickoff 2013 Invitational. While racing is difficult, sometimes finding motivation to run on your own is even harder.

Ellen Kan, Print Editor-in-Chief

Regardless of the sport, being with the team is always preferable to training alone. As a runner, I’m at my fastest, strongest and most committed in the middle of cross country or track season, surrounded by my equally dedicated teammates who are all yearning to set new personal records.

On the other hand, it’s much harder to convince myself that running is a good thing during off-season. When I’m blinded by the rivulets of sweat and sunblock streaming down my forehead and positively drowning in the suffocating July heat, every step that I take is preceded by an internal battle. What is the point of slogging through this insufferable mugginess, my treacherous mind crooned, when you could just kick back at the pool and eat ice cream with friends?

And so, I stopped running.

For about a week, I dragged myself around the house. I ate ice cream – a lot of it. I was furious at myself for being so lazy. I toyed with the idea of exercising, but with every inactive day that passed, the thought became more and more unlikely to be translated into action.

When I woke up this morning, the lack of humidity in the air was actually kind of unsettling. I got home from work after an unusually tiring day and immediately flopped onto the couch. However, my guilty subconscious wouldn’t stop nudging me until I changed into running clothes and stepped out of the front door.

I was unsure of how my unwilling body would react to running. But, I reasoned with myself, who knew how long it would take for the stormy humidity to return? Not running on this cool, breezy day would be nothing short of a crime.

It was already late in the afternoon. As I turned the corner and moved out of tree cover, my reluctance changed to astonishment as I gazed up at the sky. It was a lovely, glowing cerulean, tinged with lavender on the horizon as the sun began its arc downwards. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen the sky so achingly clear in the summer. This was certainly something I would not have noticed had I stayed indoors.

Gradually, my breathing found a comfortable rhythm. The pounding of my feet on the pavement was strangely soothing. I began to sift through all of the things that were troubling me; I imagined that they were balloons that, once I let go, simply drifted away. Out of sight, out of mind.

On a whim, I decided to try a new route today. After a few minutes, I found myself in a lovely neighborhood that I definitely had not noticed before. The summertime array of vibrant flowers lined the sidewalk and perfumed the air, while a decorative fountain bubbled peacefully in the background.

Suddenly, a whizzing sound piqued my curiosity, tugging me out of my admiration for the scenery. I turned my head and watched as a pack of bikers – at least 20 of them – flew by, chattering gaily as their neon spandex flashed in the sunlight. I decided instantly that I had never seen anything quite as graceful as those bikers, who moved in perfect unison as they weaved their way down the street and out of sight.

Finally, as I made my way back home, I was once again gifted with an unobstructed view of the sky. The blazing sun set fire to the horizon, painting the sky with streaks of tangerine and mauve reaching upwards with periwinkle clouds. The sight of the sunset was almost too exquisite to bear.

By the time I stopped on my driveway, I had logged five miles, a decent distance that made me smile. I stretched out my muscles, realizing that I had reached a kind of inner peace. The exhaustion and crankiness from just a couple hours ago had faded completely, replaced instead with bubbly contentment.

From this experience, I’ve learned that there is a very fine line between the right choice and the easy one. Sometimes we really do need to take a break from running or exercise, whether it’s to stave off injury or to mentally recharge our motivation. However, it’s easy to fall into the habit of laziness, and laziness is the one thing that can never be accompanied by a reasonable excuse.

I know now that no matter how unwilling I am to run, even a few minutes outside is better than wasting time on social media or binge watching Netflix on the couch. To break out of mind-numbing laziness, all it takes is a little bit of effort. Something as simple as lacing up my running shoes and snapping on my watch was enough to propel me out the door.

Once I had started moving, everything was easy enough, and the calming motion let me reflect on my thoughts and also discover the unobtrusive beauty of even the most ordinary things.

If any athletes out there are also shirking their summer responsibilities, I know how it feels. But I also know how good it feels to break out of the monotony of lethargy. All it takes is a tiny piece of resolve, and then the endorphins from exercise will carry you the rest of the way.