If I devote just one hour a week to running, I can stay in good shape. I do this by running four times a week on my local track, two miles per outing, and timing myself. In my Gemini days I could make two miles in thirteen minutes, but my time has gradually crept up, and today I feel as if I am going to cough up a lung if I do it in fourteen. This pace can be examined from an Olympic or a geriatric point of view, and is either tortoise-like or spectacularly fast. Personally, I think it’s pretty goddamned swift …
– Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 11
I had all but stopped running last year, but when I read the above in February, I started again.
What followed was the brutally unforgiving process of making it up to one mile, then two, and then – more or less – the above routine. I was humbled. Two years before I’d run a half-marathon.
Granted, at some point the digital arrangement on my scale would have educed a similar resumption. I like to think, though, that it’s due to the power of literature to change the reader.
The thing is, I’ve just read this, and it too is powerful:
I believe that the good Lord gave us a finite number of heartbeats and I’m damned if I’m going to use up mine running up and down a street.
– Neil Armstrong, Commander, Apollo 11