The shame of stairwell stretching

I’m not sure why I’ve waited so long to simply get over the odd looks and occasional comments I get when doing Achilles stretches in my building’s stairwell.

They are almost always harmless – stuff like “You OK, man?” or “What’re you doing?”  Other times, it’s a confused look or the occasional “hmmph” as someone has to slide to the other side of the stair to get around me.

My internal reactions run the gamut from casting my eyes downward and continuing the stretches to thinking things like “What the hell does it look like I’m doing?” or “None of yer damn business!” or just generally wanting them to go away.

This is the view from the 3rd floor landing at 10am and 2pm most days.

The truth is that I suffer from mild anxiety.  I mean, I’m fully functional – I just tend to avoid confrontations.  Even though it takes me a long time to get mad at things, I tend to ramp up quickly when it’s something recurring.  So when the need to confront something does arise, and I tend to deal directly (and pointedly) with it.  As a result, I tend to avoid the small daily annoyances so as not to have to chew someone’s head off (which has happened in the past, to bad results).  It’s for my own good, and for the good of people around me.

But the point is this:  In avoiding the looks and comments, I’d quickly stop doing my heel drops, toe raises, and calf stretches, and just walk down the stairs whenever I heard people coming up/down the stairs in my direction.

I did this, despite knowing that, for the most part, the people in my building are in the stairwell for the same reason I am:  some kind of physical benefit.  In fact, it might be the only physical activity some of these folks get in a day, and that’s fine.  Better something than nothing!

Ridiculous, right?  Why should I care?  They’re not going to pay for me to see a run doctor or a physical therapist.

Once I realized this, I started to set alarms for a brief 5-10 minute stretching session at 10 and 2 each day, doubling the number of sessions I had been doing in the past.  And it appears to be paying dividends.  My post-run soreness has been slowly diminishing, and I’ve actually shared solutions with a couple of stair-walkers that have similar issues to mine.

That’s progress, right?

I’m still not running as much as I’d like, but I’m running more than I was, and that’s a start!

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