The article begins:
Just after 7 a.m. on a sunny Wednesday in June, a 61-year-old woman darted in front of taxis in Columbus Circle outside Central Park. A few seconds later, she proclaimed — to no one, to everyone — how great it was to be alive.
The woman, Gisela Mandl, wore a bright green T-shirt, gray running shorts and white knee-high compression socks. She had just finished a 35-minute run through the park and was starting an eight-minute jaunt back to her apartment on West 48th Street, where she would stretch, do push-ups and situps, and enjoy a breakfast of steamed vegetables doused with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. She was smiling.
This routine was nothing new. Mandl, who moved to New York from West Germany in 1967, said she had run, biked or swum every day at 6:30 a.m. for the past 30 years. Wait — every single day?
“Yes, I have, absolutely,” Mandl said.
Naturally she was smiling.
She worked through challenges like sickness. Sidchas mean you figure out how to get through them.
“I remember once having the flu,” she continued. “The park was frozen. I had to sit down and scoot down a hill on my heinie in here because there was no way to walk it. But I would get myself up and get myself out and then go right back to bed.”
How she started sounds like how I did in “How to begin a workout routine to last: start with joy“—that is, with a friend and focusing on the enjoyment. She started with a coworker (named Rüegger):
Rüegger, consulting his training log recently, found that they had completed their first run together on April 25, 1989.
“I knew nothing about it, other than that it felt good,” Mandl said of the one-mile jog. “At the end of it.” Exhausted and hungry, she stopped at a deli on the way home and ate pasta.
Mandl improved quickly — within a month, Rüegger said, she was running an hour at a time — and she has not stopped since.
Why does she do it? It sounds like because it improves her life:
“What keeps me going?” she said. “I don’t know, you know? I just know I have to do this.”
She paused and thought some more.
“It’s an experience of self-love,” she said, “because I’ve done something good for myself, you know?”
Have you started your Sidchas yet?
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