In elementary school, mile-run day was the best day of the year. It contained all the best components of any great athletic competition: the anxious restlessness the night before, the meticulous planning of the pre-run breakfast, the shameless trash talk with fellow competitors. It was the main event, the talk of the school, one of few times you could really let loose in gym class without fear of scorching your hands on the climbing rope or rolling over your fingers with one of those sit-down scooters. As I walked on to that dew-ridden, tilted soccer field in early May of each school year, I strategized with the precision and thoughtfulness of an Olympic hopeful. The final few moments as I approached the starting line were critical, as essential to my performance as Jordan’s tongue-out or Nomar’s glove-taps; I turned my pants into shorts with a couple quick zips, waited for the whistle, and ran like hell for six-and-a-half laps only to collapse across the finish line in a victorious heap, regardless of the result. Then I got to eat ice-cream.
As I learned that our first lab for this class was going to be a fitness test, I longed to regain some of the joy I felt while participating in the grade school mile-run. I prepared just as I had as a child; I went to bed early the night before, ate a healthy breakfast, and hydrated excessively. I even sized-up my competition a bit during the Professors’ introductions. I was excited to show everyone what I could do, and I was tingling with anticipation. Unfortunately, my lack of participation in any physical activity for the past four months stripped me of any and all potential satisfaction. I was slow, inflexible, and took several hours to recover from a few measly sprints. My disgusting lack of fitness prevented me from enjoying an assessment that was so integral to my well-being as a young gymlete. This void has given me new-found inspiration to get back into shape.