Once I saw a guy in the produce section at the grocery store wearing a shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Running sucks.” I had a chuckle at that because I couldn’t have agreed more. With all due respect to those who love and excel at running, I have always despised it. As a kid, I dreaded the mile portion of the Presidential Fitness test in PE. As an adult, I never got past that hump to experience the runner’s high no matter what I put on my iPod. I was never tempted to sign up for a race, despite their promise to deliver feelings of self-satisfaction and accomplishment. Treadmills might as well have been torture devices, to my mind. That said, I recognize that achieving my derby goals this year requires me to open my mind and expose my body to new ways of improving my physical fitness.

I had a running date for Saturday and broke it. My muscles were sore from the week’s practices, even though I did not supplement them with any fitness classes, and I was also tired from a poor night of sleep (I am a bad sleeper, something else I’m working on). But as the day progressed, I felt I needed to do something to further my goal of kicking more better ass this season, more than a weak roundelay of push-ups and crunches on my living room floor (though I did that too).

Since the Swatch that survived from my childhood recently broke beyond repair, I didn’t have an appropriate timepiece for my outing so I figured I would just run as long as felt right and see how long that was. I set out through the neighborhood just north of my flat with a vague loop in my mind. As I got into a rhythm, I expanded my route by blocks until my body told me it was time to head home. I made it 30 minutes at a slow, continuous pace.

Things I saw: fat squirrels, an overturned port-o-john, patrons smoking outside a bar, a teenage girl with a skateboard (yeah!), a stained glass window illuminated by the midday son, Victorian architecture in various states of repair. Things I heard: the schuss of highway traffic, the boisterous colloquy of birds in a bush, wind chimes being improvised by the wind, a dog’s warning bark, leaves skittering across the sidewalk, the sound of my own breathing. Things I thought: “My body feels great”; “My body is sore”; “I am going to kick so many asses this year”; “This isn’t that bad”; “I need to get some kind of clothing that doesn’t require me to put my ID in my bra”; “I can keep going”; “….”

As my feet pedaled the pavement, I let my mind flutter lazily about and alight upon the topics it desired, some of them derby-related, many of them not. Sometimes I pictured specific players on the teams I knew we would be facing this season. Visualization helps me focus my energy on what I need to do to accomplish my goals on the track. I imagined myself in the midst of a really hard jam in a really hard bout, knowing it would keep me going because I would never be thinking then that I wish I had done less to improve my physical fitness. I would be wishing I had done more. So I did a little more.