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Just about everybody agrees a succesful workout regimen is not only based on discipline but on accountability as well. By that I mean, having a fitness partner to whom you are held accountable. Last running season I dragged my ass out of bed because I had solemnly agreed to meet my running partner at ungodly hours, in far away places, for long distance runs designed to give us a rush of endorphins and indescribable muscle aches.

Each time we actually met and concluded our runs, I felt a pinch of glee –ok, a sense of enormous egotistical accomplishment, for having accomplished the unthinkable before 8 a.m. Yet, despite the rush and the pride I felt after these runs, my descent into languid inactivity has marked the last 8 months since my last “real” run.

Initially I had a very valid and real issue with the bird population in my community. I’ve talked about it here, here, and most recently, here. Between work schedule conflicts, burgeoning bird paranoia, and a case of irreversible laziness, I put away my running shoes.

During my running sabbatical I observed and tracked the same warriors running the same tired routes, faithful to a private commitment I too once shared. As I drove past them I’d estimate their mileage by their gait, grimace and sweat. 

One day, feeling nostalgic and repentant, I asked a runner who was also a parent at my son’s school about her running habits and whether she’d had any bird issues. Initially she didn’t offer many answers but I guess after several conversations with me, she deemed me harmless enough to maintain a running dialogue about her competitions, pace, and times.

Initially, I looked forward to these conversations. I had someone to unload my running guilt to. Then, with my guilt assuaged, I started to feel accountable to her. She began to plague me with her expectations: “Go for a run! You can do it!” It’s bad enough to fall short of your own expectations; but it’s worse to let someone down, even if it’s a stranger.

So I did what every normal person would do: I avoided her at parent pick up. My confessor had become my tormentor and I couldn’t bear it.

But, the truth nagged me. It scratched its nails down my back and it growled at my feet.

This past week I laced up not once or twice, but three times, and took to the streets. I joined the ranks of quiet joggers, lost in their thoughts, but fully committed to the run. My husband loaded me up with questionable, really questionable music that kept me entertained during the run, and humming for the rest of the day:

“…So Cosmo says you’re fat
Well I ain’t down with that!
‘Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin’
And I’m thinkin’ bout stickin’
To the beanpole dames in the magazines:
You ain’t it, Miss Thing!
Give me a sister, I can’t resist her
Red beans and rice didn’t miss her!”

Let’s see if I can keep this up.