Introduction to the Exercise Life

by Fr. Jeff

Running. I admit it’s my least favorite activity. When I was in middle school, I dreaded the one day we had to run a mile in P.E.

Since returning from Rome, I have found that my daily amount of physical exertion has dropped–drastically. I once walked 3 miles a day going to and from school. Now I walk 50 feet to the carport or 100 feet to the Church door. In fact, some days it seems like the walk from the back of the church to the front is the most exercise I get all day.

Not cool.

A few times a month, I decide it’s time to do something about it. “1 mile, that’s the goal.” I take off. I usually make it 3/4 of a mile before I have to take a break. I walk a bit, then take off again. When I arrive at the back door 10 or so minutes later, I’d head straight for a glass of water and then sit for 20 minutes to catch my breath and make the dizzy feeling go away. I spend the rest of the day feeling drained. Then, I don’t run again for a while.

After talking to a friend, I realized I simply had never been taught to run or exercise properly. “Dude, I’m telling you, just try one of those Couch to 5k apps. I used to take off down the street, get to the end of the block, get tired, turn around, and go home.”

This morning, I took his advice. I found a free app. The running was intervalic: walk for 5 minutes, then 1 minute runs and 1.5 minute walks for 15 minutes, then finish with a 5 minute walk.  As time goes on, the intervals change as your abilities increase. I decided it was worth a shot. I loaded up the phone and took off.

Around the 20 minute mark, I said to myself, “I’m enjoying this and I feel great. As a beginner, I just needed a proper introduction to running.”

I nearly stopped in the middle of the street.

While I was running, I had been listening to a selection An Introduction to the Devout Life for St. Francis de Sales’ feast day, which happens to be today. It’s a work he wrote to teach people how to pray. Sometimes, people try too hard at the beginning. Pray according to your state in life.  Let it grow. Start as a beginner; increase as you go along.

Prayer and exercise. They aren’t so different.

Dear St. Francis de Sales, thank you for an

Introduction to the Exercise Life.