So, back when I was knee-deep in agriculture every day of my life, I started this series calling “Farming and Fitness.” It was right as I was finishing up my goal of losing the 40 pounds I gained during and after my fight with bulimia, and at a point in life when I lived, breathed, and dreamt agriculture. My career took an unexpected turn, and while I no longer work in the agriculture industry and spend significantly less time on farms…it still shaped a lot of who I am.
I can’t erase the years of lessons learned in tractors and trucks, at 4-H shows and FFA competitions. (And why would I? I think some of my best life lessons were learned when I had manure on my boots.)
So, even if I’m not immersed in agriculture every day, it’s still a part of me. And whenever I work out, I’m reminded of this series, and how I need to finish what I’ve started. Today, I was reminded of it in a big way.
Last summer, around mid-June, I stopped running. It was too hot — I hate working out inside but I didn’t have the heat tolerance to do it outside. I let the weather control my fitness routine and I got soft. I started running again when it cooled off, but in September, I caught the bronchitis.
I was told to take a few weeks off, and that my serious asthma (which had been gone for years) had returned. Essentially, cold-weather running would not only be unpleasant, but dangerous; I would run the chance of catching a chest cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia if I wasn’t careful.
Then, on October 11th, I got laid off. While I only spent a few weeks without a job, I spent a lot of time running. It kept my mind off things and made me feel empowered. I scored and awesome new job in less than three weeks. My first several weeks at the new job, I worked out consistently.
Then, I caught the bronchitis.
There’s a moral to this story: I had the distinct pleasure of taking a break from running in the heat of summer…because I chose to. And in the winter, I don’t run outdoors because I shouldn’t. (But my friend, DeEtta, does. She’s a boss.) Sure, when I’ve been on a good streak and am in shape, I hate taking breaks due to weather. But, after years of working on farms and alongside farmers and ranchers, I appreciate the luxury of choice.
Running isn’t part of my income; however, for farmers and ranchers all over, they don’t get that choice.
Livestock need to have nutritious food and clean, fresh water, regardless of weather. When the crop needs to be harvested, it won’t wait for the weather to cool off to safer working conditions, or warm up to more comfortable ones. My fitness is flexible enough to fit indoors, outdoors, in good weather, or in my much-loved “rain runs.” I run for my stress management (read: sanity) and for my fitness, but I don’t HAVE to do it.
Those farmers and ranchers I used to work alongside (many of which are still dear friends), their dedication runs deeper. For every time I’ve chosen not to work out because it was too cold and snowy outside, there have been ranchers blowdrying newborn calves in their bathtub because it’s too cold for a fresh, wet calf to dry off outside. For every run I chose not to take because of heat advisory, there are farmers trying to make a profit off of dry, withered leaves and sun-baked earth.
Tonight, I was discouraged.
I wanted to blow off steam, so I tried to go for a run. After two battles with bronchitis and a doctor-recommended “long break” from working out, I was chomping at the bit. The air was just cold enough that those trusty ol’ lungs of mine started freezing up before I’d even made it a mile. I had to call it quits with the quiet resolution that I would get back into a swing someday. And someday, maybe I can take a page from the agricultural book and work through the weather to be the best possible me I can be.
I have the choice to wait for a warmer day. I’m thankful farmers don’t take days off for weather, though. Thanks, farmers!