Screaming On the Inside

Exercise will be the death of me: Part 2

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

Last week I provided my first riveting installment of “What Happens When Maddie Exercises,” and the picture painted was not pretty. 

In case you were wondering: no, the agonizing pain has not gone away. And no, exercise has not gotten any more enjoyable. 

Allow me to update you. Quarantine is boring. I thought it would be wise to use this newly acquired free time to get in the habit of exercising regularly. It is a decision I regret. 

And while I did thoroughly enjoy complaining about it last week, I have come to the conclusion that I just am not done yet — because guess what? I started running this week. 

Running is basically voluntary torture — especially when you have the lung capacity of an asthmatic mouse and you haven’t used your leg muscles since elementary school. In my defense, I did have a collapsed lung last fall. 

Regardless of the physical and mental torment that running causes me, I’m determined to keep it up. So, I’ve gone for a run every day that hasn’t been rainy or freezing outside. 

I currently run a three-mile path around Carson Park.

When I say “run,” of course, I really mean I alternate between running and walking. Bursts of running typically last about a minute or two. Walking breaks typically last about five minutes. I pick up running again after my lungs stop burning and I stop wheezing.

I do have to admit: It feels good to know I’m working toward a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, all of the muscles and bones in my legs seem to disagree. 

I have been hobbling around like an old man for the past week. My shins feel like they are going to snap every time I take a step. My ankles feel like they should be swollen to the size of a balloon. My knees are on the verge of giving out. I see a bright white light whenever I use the stairs.

How am I expected to remain motivated when I’m in this much pain? 

The sun is shining right now and the high for the day is 57 degrees. I know today will be a running day.

I do yoga before every run. Stretching out my muscles does help alleviate some of the pain. However, I think the real key here is mental motivation.

First of all, I keep reminding myself that the pain won’t be this bad for long. Second, I have to believe this will all be worth it if running makes me healthier and gets me in better shape. Third, it’s important for me to remember that exercise is good for mental health. 

Plus, I could really use that increase in dopamine and serotonin.

At the end of the day, I do understand that the benefits far outweigh the costs. I just really miss being lazy and allowing my muscles to wither away into dust — the good old days, as it were.

I’m also not a fan of the way exercising messes with my appetite. I’m hungry all the time. 

According to, a person generally burns around 100 calories per mile they run. I feel like I have been gaining back those calories pretty quickly these past few days. Running only fuels my cravings for pasta.

So, no — I have not yet perfected the fitness lifestyle those annoying Instagram influencers all seem to have. Frankly, I’m not sure I ever will. But, I like to think that fitness is different for everyone.

Despite the pain that has got me screaming on the inside — and sometimes the outside — I know I am heading down a positive path. Really, that’s all that matters.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected]