I wake up near dawn, pre-alarm. The window is open and the air is crisp. I pee and put on my running shoes and weird tracksuit bottoms I never wear and I run out the door. This run isn’t a routine run or a brutal run. It isn’t cathartic, nor is it the beginning of some meaningful new chapter in my life. I know this because every two years or so, I run once and exactly once. This is, for lack of a better term, my exercise regimen.

It feels alright to run. I don’t push myself too hard. I do a lot of walking. I do that feeble jog-walk-shuffle thing one doesn’t want to be witnessed performing, the motion that is somehow slower than just walking. I ache to yawn but can’t harness enough lung capacity to pull one out of my jawhole. I am alone on a side street, then a small cemetery. I do my best to move my feet among the dead. My running shoes are bright and unmolested and don’t feel broken in yet. They’re old enough to enter grade school.

Exercise never becomes a part of my routine, even when I enjoy it. I forget it can feel good. I forget it can clear a sinus headache. I forget it can shake my brain like an Etch-A-Sketch, wipe it clear, leaving me with nothing to ponder except propelling myself forward.

I forget because I am forgetful.
I am forgetful because I am not mindful.
I am not mindful because I’m lost in my head and not grounded in my body.
I’m not grounded in my body because I don’t exercise.

I wheeze down my street, trying to end strong, mostly failing to end strong. I strip off my sweaty clothes and shower and make coffee and buttered toast. I sit on my porch and write in my notebook. My new-old running shoes sit abandoned by the back door, pliant and flexed from use, limbered up and ready to go. I will put them away tomorrow.

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