It’s been a week since the 5k run, and my knees still hurt. Granted, it’s only when I’m moving, and worst when I’m going up and down stairs, but I wasn’t expecting my knees to hurt a week later. I guess I really pounded that pavement a week ago.

I come away from the eight-week training experience of the Learn To Run For Smokers program with the Lung Association of Nova Scotia as a changed man. That sounds more dramatic than it is. I went in a fat, lazy smoker, and in most regards, I still am.

I’ve never called the Learn To Run class a weight loss program, because it’s not. I lost maybe five pounds through all this. Most of that was probably Christmas weight that stuck around until March. But I did lose about two inches off my waist, which might suggest some change in my body’s weight distribution. So, I’m still fat, but slightly less fat than before.

I’m still lazy. I’m not one of these exercise nuts who gets a high out of strapping on the shoes several times a week and hitting the road. I’d still rather sleep. But I’ve become accustomed to exercise. I’ve learned that I really can find 40 minutes a day, three times a week, to get out and do my body some good by walking or running. It’s easy for me to say I don’t have time. It’s easy for me to make excuses. Through this program, I’ve proven that excuses can be overcome. I’m still lazy, but I’ve learned to overcome laziness for a purpose.

Am I still a smoker? Yes, sadly, I am. I’ve learned that quitting smoking is not simply an intellectual exercise. I could lecture on smoking cessation, the benefits of quitting, the physiology of nicotine addiction and all the rest of it. I’ve done everything to do with quitting smoking except quit smoking. I must say, though, that smoking has become more yucky. I’m noticing the stink a lot more. I’m feeling the effects on my lungs a lot more. I became aware of how much of my exercise incapacity was from my general lack of fitness and how much was from the sorry state of my lungs.

So, yes, I’m still a fat, lazy smoker, but I’m a slightly less fat, less lazy, contemplative smoker.

Was it all worth it? I wondered at the beginning whether I’d feel good about getting up every Saturday for 9am workouts. Giving up sleep to go running in the winter seemed contrary to my nature. But hey, my nature has led me to be a chubby dude with high blood pressure, so it’s about time I fought my nature.

Yes, it was completely worth it. I got to make an improvement in my health and learn some lessons about living healthy forever. Well, not forever. None of us is going to make it out of this alive. But we might as well make the most of the years we’re here.

Beyond what this whole project has done for my health, lifestyle and confidence, I’ve enjoyed presenting it to you every week. I’ve learned a thing or two more about video production. Really, it’s quite a feat for me: this series has included ten web stories, at least ten videos, and three radio stories every week. Every camera shot in the series was done by me (except one time after the 5k when I was laid out on the steps and I handed the camera to my wife). As proud as I am about making it through the training and 5k run, I’m just as proud of this multimedia experiment for News95.7.

Big thanks to everyone who’s helped over the past two and a half months: listeners and newsmakers around town who’ve asked me how it’s going; family and friends back in Ontario and beyond who’ve been following from afar and cheering me on; generous folks who sponsored me in the Lung Run; my wife, who washed my sweaty gear, listened to me complain, showed her pride and even massaged my sore shins; my enthusiastic coworkers and editor Ruth Davenport who gave me the story in the first place; the Bad Ashes running team who were so welcoming and genuine; the coaches who made me believe I could accomplish every task; all the guests, including my doctor, who let me record them for the series; the Lung Association of Nova Scotia including Louis Brill; and team leader Jayne Norrie, who patiently endured my whining and smilingly urged me on week after week.

Wondering if you can do it, too? Heck, yeah, you can! Read all the links below and get inspired.

The Lung Association of Nova Scotia is going to do it again. Another Learn To Run For Smokers group begins in early May, and this time it’s not on a weekend morning! If you even suspect that you should be in this class, get in touch and get going. Now’s the time to start taking care of yourself.

Thanks for reading, watching and listening. I hope we can do something big like this again. 

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