Credit: Lori York
A week ago I ran my first public "5K" race. Well... it turned out the organizers goofed a bit and it was only 2.5 miles (instead of 3.1), but still, it was the first race I ever ran knowing the results would be posted on the Internet for all to see.
This morning I ran 4.2 miles over a local route I like to run. I ran 4 miles two days ago... 3.5 two days prior to that... and on and on...
Not bad for a 43-year-old guy who, only six months ago...
... couldn't run down to the end of our street without huffing and puffing and feeling like I was going to die!
I didn't set off with the goal of being a "runner". In fact, I've pretty much avoided running for most of my life. Historically I always had this bit of a smug attitude:
I'd consider running/jogging if I ever saw a runner smiling!
And so I would bike, hike, kayak/canoe, walk, ski and do many other forms of exercise... but never run or jog.
What happened to change me?
Back in the Spring I took a look at my physical health and realized I needed to make a change (which is a story for another time). As part of that, I wanted to introduce regular exercise into my daily routine. Sure, I hike and kayak and ski... but all of those are things you do occasionally... maybe once a week... maybe once a month... maybe once a season (kayaking this year for me, unfortunately). I needed to do something that I could do regularly.
At the end of May, on Memorial Day Weekend, to be precise, my wife and I kicked off a plan to go for a walk every day. With two young children in the house, we started a process where we'd take turns on weekdays... one of us would go first, then the other, leaving someone at home at all times for the morning routine with the kids. On the weekends, we tried to go on walks as a family... and generally, we stuck with it and walked most days except for those where it was pouring rain.
Over time, the walk started evolving a bit as I (and my wife) started incorporating a small bit of running. It was VERY incremental. I like to walk/run in a beautiful local cemetery that has a couple of miles of roads in it. At first my goal was to run from the entrance to a flagpole in a flat area... then from the entrance to this beautiful chapel up on a hill... then from from the entrance to the chapel and back... then to include the second attached cemetery (in parts)... then to run a continuous loop through both cemeteries and back to the street... and then to run the loop through both cemeteries twice... and now most recently my goal is to run all the side paths to come up with an even longer route inside the cemeteries...
Credit: Tri-state Racing
It helps, naturally, that I have someone with whom to engage in light-hearted competition. My wife was the first to run 5K (3.1 miles) back in the summer... and she just raised the bar this past week to hit the 4-mile mark. I raised that a bit this morning... one of us will hit 4.5 miles soon... There are days when I don't want to go and do it, but the motivation of having someone else around helps.
Facebook, surprisingly, has also been a great motivator. A number of friends have been runners for a while - and a number of others are, like me, working on incorporating regular exercise into their lives. It has been motivating to see their runs and comments... and the comments from others on my runs have been motivating to me. Numerous folks have told me that my posting about runs has inspired them to get out there - which is a large part of why I continue posting there.
In any event... if you've thought about introducing regular exercise into your life, I'm living proof that it is possible to go from not being able to run down your street to being able to run a then-inconceivable distance of 4 miles!
You can do it!
How far am I going with running? I don't know... my first goal was to run a 5K and now I'm thinking that 5 miles is a good target. I don't see longer runs fitting into our lifestyle... but who knows... in the end it is all about priorities.
P.S. And, hey, along the way I've lost about 45 pounds so far... so I'm no longer the fat guy I used to be! (But exercise was not the only change I made... more on that in another story.)
P.P.S. I still haven't seen many runners smiling! :-)