By Cliff McCain, Ed.D. |
“It may be Hodgkin’s Lymphoma” The words seemed to stop the world as we knew it. The oncologist was indeed correct and my life started a new phase. One of treatment and then, fortunately, recovery. While the treatments were successful, another issue had developed. I was now as out of shape as I had ever been in my life. The lack of exercise had taken a toll and the steroids in the treatments helped me put on excess weight. Like many, I wanted to get in shape but didn’t know how to take that first step. But that is indeed the key; just take that one step. . . and then another.
When I decided to get healthy again, I decided to make it a marathon, not a sprint. I did not get out of shape in a week. I couldn’t expect to get in shape in that manner. So, I began with walking. I walked a block, then two blocks. Then I walked a mile. Once I felt like I was a “walker” I began setting goals. I would try to get in so many minutes in each day. It became a motivation for me. Before I knew it, the walk was not something I had to do. I actually enjoyed it! Little could I have imagined I was still at the beginning of my fitness journey.
I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood conducive to walking, with one loop equaling one mile. One day as I walked, I was about to go down a slight hill. It seemed like the right moment and I decided to jog slowly down the hill, probably less than a quarter mile. As I finished that short jog, I had a great feeling. One that pushed me on for weeks. I began to continue my downhill run each day. I went a few yards farther each day until I was going about a half a loop.
As I went down the hill one morning I suddenly decided to go as far as I could on this run. I went a little slower than usual, probably not much faster than I walk. But I kept going and going and before I knew it, I was approaching the one-mile mark. As I crossed that line, I knew it was a big moment. From that point on, I was not limited by thoughts of what I couldn’t do. I was motivated by what I might accomplish.
That first walk occurred in 2012. I now currently run 3-6 miles, three or four times a week. On several occasions, I have run 10 miles. I am in no way a professional runner, but I know I have changed my lifestyle into an active, healthy one.
I hope that everyone that has wanted to take that first step will do it. Take that step I took eight years ago. Do not fear failure. Embrace the challenge and see what you can do. It is worth the risk.
Cliff McCain works as a learning specialist in the athletic department at the University of Mississippi. He spent two decades working as a coach and administrator at the secondary education level. McCain holds a doctor of education degree in higher education and master’s degrees in history and educational administration.