Lessons learned from running with myself.
A Few Stray Thoughts
I have never considered myself to be an athlete. I never participated in organized sports. However, I have found that in spite of being old and overweight running somehow has become a good fit for me. What follows are some thoughts, advice, and cautionary tales for ordinary people who are considering running.
Running is Hard
Running is hard. That is the first lesson everyone learns when running is done not from a standpoint of play but from the context of this is something that you should do to achieve a goal. Regardless of the desired outcome: better health, longer life, decrease weight, increase muscle a goal turns running into a job. For the moment don’t think of running as a means to an end, consider it an end in itself. Then for a few moments, the act of running will return to the joyful childhood action of play. Run until it’s easy.
Running Takes Time
Running a long time takes a long time. I have been running since I was an overweight and over self-conscious teen who in the 1970s discovered running as a no-cost and solitary form of exercise that could be performed at night while wearing jeans. I didn’t even own a pair of shorts to work out in much less running shoes. Eventually, I purchased shorts and my very first pair of Nike shoes and I began running sporadically. My first race was a one-mile fun run in college. I was shocked when I won my first trophy, (which I still proudly have on display). From that point on I was hooked. I was running the evening my wife went into labor. When I returned from running she made sure I took a bath in spite of my insistence that we go immediately to the hospital. With family demands and life in general I ran much less over the years. Typically I always ran about three miles which were perfect for the occasional 5-K race. Today there is a plethora of races and distances to choose from. Start with a mile, add as you go, the road will always be there. Running long distances takes a long time.
Alone With Others
Running is a solo sport best done with others. I began running through the late-night streets alone and eventually moved into daytime running with the addition of some proper footwear and clothes. I never consistently ran with anyone else until I saw a homemade poster in my gym advertising a running group that was training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon that was coming to Savannah in the fall. I was at a point in my life where I was ready for a new challenge. I decided to give the group a try and I told myself if I didn't like it I would never go back. Prior to this, the longest I had ever run was a half marathon which was over a decade ago. My normal daily run still ranged about three miles. I met the group that Saturday and took off with them not realizing that they were going out for a seven-mile run. I did manage to keep up with the slower-paced runners in the group and complete the run. I signed up for the Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon and continued to train with the group. I have continued to run with the group and I have completed a marathon as well as one or two half marathons every year. That was nine years ago and I still meet the group every Saturday for an eight-mile run. I still run solo, at my own pace but I start and finish with a good group of people.
Remember: Run without a goal. Take your time to build your time. Run alone with friends. Thank you for allowing me to share a few words on an activity I love.