Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My Scheduled Workouts For This Week:

4 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 2-1/2 minutes
  • Jog  3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 2-1/2 minutes
  • Jog  3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 2-1/2 minutes
  • Jog  3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes

Alright, so if you saw my posting for Sunday, you know that I completely failed to run my Week 4, run 1 workout then.  Today, I redeemed myself and pushed through to complete it.

It wasn't fast.  But I did it.

My body still said no.  I just didn't listen.

I've mentioned this before but I use a training app for my phone called C25KPro.  It tells me when to walk, when to run, and most importantly, when I'm done.  I noticed today that they did a particularly mean thing with it.  The woman's voice that tells you want to do makes a point of saying "Ready? Run!" at the beginning of each running phase.

"Ready?  No I'm not ready!"

I was especially not ready when I had run my first 5 minute run today.  You know why I wasn't ready?  Because the program is changing the game on me.  Up till now, the runs have all been followed by walks of the same length, or more.

The first week: Run 60 seconds, then walk 90 seconds.
The second week: Run 90 seconds, then walk 90 seconds
The third week: Run 90 seconds, then walk 90 seconds, then run 3 minutes, then walk 3 minutes
The fourth week: Run 3 minutes, then walk 90 seconds, then run 5 minutes, then walk 2.5 minutes

I see what you did there!  You cheated me out of half my walking phases!

Yeah, it did.  There is a reason for that.  It's preparing me for next week when I have a full 20 minute run with no stops.  It's "easing" me into it by making me work harder than I realize I am.

But I'm onto them.  My body is not fooled.  It hurts!

I know full well that the walking phases are smaller.  Because when that voice comes over my phone and say's "Ready?" I am not.

And I tell her I'm not.  Sometimes I even yell out, "No!"  But while I'm telling that I'm not ready, my feet have already started moving.  Traitors.

Today, I managed to keep them moving, even though I didn't want to.  I'll take it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Body Say's "NO!"

My scheduled workouts for this week

4 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 2-1/2 minutes
  • Jog  3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 2-1/2 minutes
  • Jog  3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 2-1/2 minutes
  • Jog  3 minutes
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 5 minutes

That is what I was supposed to run today (run 1).  It didn't quite work out that way.

My run today was sort of like this sketch from Little Britain.  Only the computer didn't say no. My body did.

It is cold and rainy out, so I went to the gym to do my run on treadmill.  I did my 3 minute run, and I was about 4 minutes through my 5 minute run and my body just shut down on me.  My calves felt like they were balloons about to break. 

I can normally push myself through this, but today it just didn't work. 

Now... I could have just skipped this blog entry.  There is still plenty of time to get my 3 runs in for the week, and in fact, that is exactly what I plan to do.  I will repeat tonight's run on Tuesday, and then run Thursday and Saturday to catch up.  However, I think it is important to note that there will be times when it just doesn't go.  I know this from experience.

So, since there is nothing really to do about it than move forward, I've come up with a list of takeaways:
  • There will be days when your body just won't cooperate with your plans.
  • If you are doing a structured program like Couch To 5K, with weekly workout schedules:
    • Plan for these situations.  Make sure to start working out early in the week, so you can handle some setbacks along the way and still meet your weekly goals.
    • If you have a situation that keeps you from hitting a weekly goal, don't get discouraged!  Things do happen in life and there will be times when you have a setback.  You can repeat a week on the program.  This is true if you have an injury obviously, but sometimes your body may just not be ready to go to the next level.  That's OK!  The key is to keep moving.
I'm not happy about the workout not going well.  But it happens.  Perhaps it was my body telling me I was pushing too hard.  Sure, I could have pushed past it, and there are times when I certainly should.  But that can also result in injuries.  So, sometimes it pays to listen when your body say's "NO!"

Friday, March 15th, 2013 - Week 3, Run 3

My Running Plan for this week (This is workout #3)

3Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 90 seconds
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk three minutes
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 90 seconds
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk three minutes
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 90 seconds
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk three minutes

Click here for the Endomondo Tracker for this run.

Not much to really say about this run.  It was originally supposed to be on Thursday, but I ended up moving it to Friday due to scheduling conflicts (translated: I didn't get to it.  (translated: I was a slacker)).

But I guess going out and doing a run on Friday evening is also a sign of commitment, or maybe that I should be committed.  One of those two.

At any rate, the run is done and in the books.  No particular philosophical thoughts apart from "Why am I out on the running track on Friday night?"

Up till now it's been fairly easy but that all kind of stops next week.  Some 5 minute runs will be tossed into the mix and I get to start dreading my first true distance runs (Week 5, run 3 is a 2 mile run, or 20 minutes.  I'm slow so I won't make it quite 2 miles).

That's all for now.  I'm actually posting this on Sunday, March 17th, and about to go out for my Week 4, run 1.

Oh that's a great follow-up.  I went and ran Friday night, and now I'll be going and running on St. Patrick's day.  Think of me when you are drinking your green beer.  The only consolation I'll have is that I don't like beer.  I think I'd rather run.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Another combo post (translated: I was a slacker and didn't do my blog on Saturday)

My Current Couch To 5K workout schedule

3 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)

Saturday Run Results (Couch To 5K - Week 3, Run 1):
My Run
My Walk after the run

Tuesday Run Results (Couch To 5K - Week 3, Run 2):
My Run

So this is another combo posting for two runs.

The good news:  I actually did my run on Saturday, and again on Tuesday.

The bad news:  It's now Wednesday and I'm just getting around to my blog for Saturday and Tuesday.

OK Yes, I am a slacker.  I should have already posted these.  But you know what?  I'd much rather be a slacker about doing my blog than be a slacker about doing my run.  So I'll take that.

Saturday Run

Here in Northwest Arkansas, we are fortunate to have a really good park system, with extensive trails connected to them.  They have been working for the past 10 years to connect all the parks trails together so that you can literally go from park to park, with very few road crossings.  It's pretty cool and the result is a great network of walking/jogging/bike riding trails.

I ran on my favorite trail today. It is a great trail that is close to my house.  It starts at the "Bark Park" (a park specifically for dogs and their owners), out into some nice forest area with some off-road bike trails, past the Crystal Bridges Museum, and into downtown Bentonville.  It also goes by the Bentonville sewage treatment facility.  That part isn't exactly a highlight of the run.  But it gives me extra motivation to run faster when I pass it!  The wooded area makes up for it in scenery, with a pretty stream that passes over the trail in several areas.  Also, around the Crystal Bridges Museum is the Compton Gardens, with a lot of pretty flowers and plants.  All in all, it's a very nice place to run.

I like running this trail for a few reasons, but perhaps the biggest is that it is part of the course for the Bentonville Running Festival Half Marathon. That race will be coming up at the beginning of April.  This trail features what is probably the most difficult portion of the race course - a fairly difficult uphill climb.  It is hard to walk up, much less run.

I'm not exactly ready for the half marathon this year, but it is definitely a goal to run it next year.  This year I am going to run the 5K portion of the event.  At this point, even that will be a stretch.  That's OK.

I didn't get to the museum on this run.  I didn't even get to the sewage treatment plant (yay!).  I did get far enough to see the bridge that leads to it off in the distance.  That works for me!

It was nice to be on the course.  It helps see how far I've come, and how far I have to go.

Today's run wasn't exactly easy.  I'm used to running on a track, where I have a pretty good idea how far I've gone.  I track my progress on Couch To 5K by time, rather than distance.  But I am pretty good at judging my pace and knowing when I'm coming close to the end of a phase.  Running on the trails is a little harder.  I don't know how long I've gone at any point in time.  Yes, I've got my endomondo program that let's me know I've crossed a mile.  That will help me when I'm running longer distances.  Right now it doesn't tell me much.  My entire workout is only 2 miles roughly.

The part that is a bit easier as I go along is that the number of sets decreases.  Week one was 8 running phases and 8 walking phases (not counting the 5 minute warm up and cool down walk).  This week is only 4 runs and 4 walks.  It seems like it's over very quickly.  But of course the runs are harder.

One thing that was interesting on the run.  After I finished the run, and the cooldown walk, I was still quite a ways out on the trail.  So, I decided to take a rest for a few minutes and sat down on a park bench.  I paused my endomondo tracking while i rested.  But, when I got back up, I went to start endomondo back up again and somehow i accidently ended my workout.

I had a momentary panic when this happened, because i wasn't sure if it actually recorded my run.

That made me a little sad.  I like having that record of my achievement, little as it is.  It's something I can point to and say, "Hey I did something right today!"

As you can see from the above postings, my workout was actually recorded still.  I simply started up a new, walking workout for my walk back to my car.  So I got two workouts! :)

But it's interesting how much I was dependent on that.  I have had times before when I thought my workout was being tracked and for some reason it didn't.  I hate it when that happens!  But you know what?  The run still happened.  I got just as much of a workout without the tracker as I did with it.  I don't need the tracker to prove I worked out.  But it sure feels nice to have it.

Tuesday Run

This is a picture of people flying using wingsuits.  It looks fun doesn't it.  The wind whooshing around you as you zoom across the sky!  Sounds like a blast to me (literally), but it isn't much fun when I'm trying to run.  That's what Tuesday was like.  Incidentally, if you would like to fly with a wingsuit, these guys are willing to help you.  Perhaps I'll do that one day.  In the meantime, I hope they don't mind me using their picture.

Did I mention that this is March?  You know, the month when kids fly kites?  You know why they do that right?  It's because there is a lot of wind in March.  That was certainly true of my run on Tuesday.  So, it kind of felt like I was one of those guys in a wingsuit.  But, I wasn't.  That was just me huffing and puffing around the track. 

The thing about a track is that it is a big loop.  So, at some point in your run, you will be running into the wind.  As you build up endurance, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  After all, as I mentioned before, I'm training based on time for my Couch To 5K routine, not distance.  If I'm running into the wind and not making much progress on distance, it doesn't matter.  I still ran for 3 minutes.

But the thing is, in March, not only it very windy.  It's also very cold!  It wasn't a very cold day, but the wind made it feel cold.  It only felt cold when I was running against the wind.  Because I was on a track, that was approximately half the time.

I say approximately.  It felt like more than half the time.

You see, the week 3 workout for Couch To 5K is a 90 second run, followed by a 90 second walk, followed by a 3 minute run, followed by a 3 minute walk.  Then, rinse and repeat. 

So I started on the side of the track that was with the wind at about the halfway mark on the track, doing my 5 minute warm up walk.  This was a mistake.  For me, a 5 minute walk is a little over a quarter of a mile.  This means, I walked around the track once and was headed into the turn for my second lap when the first run phase kicked in.  In other words, that put me running into the wind.

So, I ran for 90 seconds, and the voice comes over my phone, saying "great job, start walking."

Where was this?  Of course, just headed in to the curve on the other side.  Sooo... my walking side (the already easy part) was going with the wind.  90 Seconds later, my second run kicks in... into the wind again.  Not that it really matters, as the second run is for 3 minutes.  That's a little over a full lap on the track.  So, I'm getting both a run with the wind and against it, no matter what.

Fun, fun!

It probably doesn't sound like I like running much does it?  I do actually.

I know from past experience, that there will be a point where I will actually like running into the wind.  As it gets into the summer months, I will even prefer running into the wind more than running with it.  The wind will become my friend, because it will become my air conditioner!  It gets pretty hot here in the summertime.  And while the wind at your back makes you run faster, it also causes you to feel the heat in a big way.  You are running faster, so that's harder work.  On top of that, you can't feel any wind because it's all at your back.  Running into the wind feels much nicer.  It's terrible on run times, but it feels refreshing.

That day will come.  But it is not today.  In my head I picture Aragorn in "Lord of the Rings", as he leads the forces outside the gates of Mordor. (Yeah OK I use a lot of LOTR references...)

"There will come a day when we like running into the wind!  It will refresh us, and allow us to run long and free!  But it is NOT THIS DAY!"

"One day, we will revel in its cool breezes.  We will laugh as we run triumphantly into the wind!  But it is NOT THIS DAY!"

No.  It is not this day.  This day it is miserable.  I don't like it.  It isn't refreshing.  It's cold.  When I get home, I will start coughing during my after-workout stretch and won't be able to stop for what seems like hours. It sucks.


You know what?  I still did it.  I didn't stop running just because it was cold and nasty.  I still did my run.  So now, Aragorn's voice pops in my head again...

"There may come a day, when we will be defeated by a little thing like cold wind on a March day.  When we will forsake our dreams, and give up on our goals, because we are buffeted by the winds!  But it is NOT THIS DAY!

No.  Not this day.  Today, I ran even though it wasn't fun.  Thursday, I will run whether it is fun or not.  And next week.  And the week after that.  I'm not going to stop because of the wind.  Nor will I stop because my age is creeping up there.  I won't even stop because I've taken off the same pounds and put them back on, time after time.

I have been down that road.  There is nothing to see there.  I've quit because of even lesser things.  Not this time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spring is coming!

Couch To 5K Training - Week 2, Workout 3

2 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Here's the link to my Endomondo Tracker for today's workout.

This was my first run outside since Week 1, Day 1.  The temperature here has been up and down quite a bit.  Last week we had snow sticking to the ground.  Not much, but some.  This week, we have temperatures in the 20s in the morning, and 60s in the afternoon.  That seems like quite a range to me.  Maybe it's not so unusual.

The bottom line is that I've been running on treadmill a lot lately.  I don't like running on a treadmill.  I especially don't like running on one enough to get used to it.  There are several reasons for this:
  • It's even more boring than running on a track.
  • It kind of forces a different running style than you would use on pavement.  Body positioning is different, etc.
  • Potential injury due to falls.  I guess my running technique is more like a stagger, because it isn't uncommon for me to step off the belt by accident.
  • I don't understand how these machines can be trusted to accurately determine running pace, duration, etc., when they are seemingly unable to calculate a correct calorie burn rate.  Try different machines, and you'll likely get different calories burned totals for the same workout.  If I can't trust it for that, why should I trust it for the other?
The biggest reason for me though is that I feel like I'm running on training wheels.  When I do get back outside after running on the treadmill for a while, it seems harder to me than running the same time on the treadmill was.

Even my outside runs don't change elevation much.  There are some very hilly trails for running around where I live, but I don't generally train on them much.  I will need to start that soon.  For right now, I stick to pretty flat surfaces.  So, that's not the issue.

I think it's primarily speed.  On a treadmill, you typically run at the same pace.  In my case, I try to run at a steady 5.8 pace, and walk at about 3.5.  I don't know why I put "about 3.5" because it's exactly 3.5.  It's a treadmill.  Approximate paces aren't really it's thing.  Assuming you trust them, that is.

When I run outside though, I don't have anything forcing me to run at a certain pace.  So I would imagine my pace is a bit ragged.  Sometimes fast, and sometimes slow.   The wind is a bit of a factor too I suppose.  The nice thing about this plan is that I am not running a set distance.  I'm running a set time.  So it doesn't really matter if I run with the wind (faster), or against it (slower).  I'm running for the same set time.  Running into the wind just provides some air conditioning.

Today, it was nice outside and I was able to run "in the elements".  I was tempted to say "au naturale," but that um... means something different.  I'm not ready to cross that bridge yet, though interestingly enough, there are a number of nude races around the country.  http://www.nuderuns.com/CalendarMain.html

If you have the.... guts... to do this... more power to you!  I'll stick with my shorts and t-shirts, thanks.  It does actually bring an interesting question to my mind though.  When you run in a race for nudists, do you get a t-shirt?  From looking at the calendar, the answer is usually "Yes."  Seems a bit like hypocrisy to me, but whatever.

OK, I'm way off course here.  It really doesn't take much to take me off course, in case you hadn't noticed.

Where was I?

Oh yes!  Today's workout.

Today kind of hurt.  I haven't been stretching properly after my runs and today, my calves let me know about it.  They didn't hurt so much as they just felt like they were so pumped up that they were going to explode.  I'm going to have to work on doing my stretches properly.  Also, I need to work on doing exercises to loosen up my joints before i run.

That's all I've got for today.  No really deep thoughts.  Just doing what I set out to do.  I guess that's good enough. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Motivation to Run

Week 2, Workout 2 of my Couch To 5K Training for 2013 (trumpets sounding, etc.).

I ran on treadmill again today.  I have been setting it to 5.8 for my running times, and 3.5 for the walks.

It's a bit of an improvement on my pace in years past, when I usually went with 5.5 for runs.

Every little bit counts right?

My total distance for each of my workouts so far has been almost exactly 2 miles.  The only difference is the runs I've done on the track, because I have the additional walk to get there.

Oddly, it was a little harder today.  It seems like, having run the same distance two days ago, that shouldn't be the case.  Hey, I pushed a little on Sunday.  Today, well it's just the same routine!  And it is.

Some day's are just harder than others.  It is harder to find the motivation to do the things I need to do.  And running is one of those things that it is hard to get excited about sometimes.  The reasons are pretty obvious.

It is the same with anyone starting something like this.  We've all got busy lives.  There is always something going on, something going wrong, something breaking.  It is overwhelming!

Starting an exercise program is kind of like adding one more layer to a house of cards.  You know that sooner or later there will be one card too much, and sooner or later it will crash.  For me this always came sooner than later, because I'm terrible at building with cards.  Come to think of it, they make a pretty crappy building material.  I guess they are good for analogies for exactly the same reason.  Well, OK I'm off track.

Yes, it is hard to start an exercise routine.  Because yes, it is just one more thing.  But hey, I'm in Week 2.  That means I have already "started."  So, it should be a piece of cake now.  I got up, and got moving!  So nothing but blue skies ahead now!

So.... why is it still so hard to get motivated sometimes?

I think I've found part of the answer:

You don't need motivation to do things you don't consider "optional"

Think about it.  You don't need motivation to eat.  You eat because your body say's, "Feed Me!"  Sure, if you don't eat for a long time, you will die.  And that certainly is "motivation."  Most of us don't really approach that point before feeding ourselves though.  We know we need to eat, and our stomachs say "no better time than the present!"

Besides, eating is fun.  Eating is satisfying.  It is kinda nice that something we have to do, also turns out to be something we want to do.  That doesn't happen often in life.

It certainly doesn't happen with running.  Oh sure, we like the things that come from running.  We like to be more fit.  We like to beat other people in a race.  At least, other people like that.  I think I'd like that.  One day I hope to find out.

But when it comes to "liking" running itself?  No, not really.  I picked up running for a variety of reasons, as can be seen from previous posts.  But in large part, it is simply practical.  I run because I don't know of any other exercise that will give my body the bang for the buck that running does.  It's not overly time consuming.  It doesn't require a huge investment.  It doesn't really matter how good at it I am. 

I hear that people learn to love running over time.  I hope that's true.  There are certainly days that I like it more than others.

In terms of being required, well, running isn't.  I don't have to run.  If I miss a day, I can make it up another day.  It's no big deal. It's primarily a solitary sport.  So, if I miss, who's going to notice?

The thing is, nobody ever misses a meal on Tuesday and say's, "That's OK.  I'll just eat something on Friday!"  Sure, I skip a meal sometimes, but my body is pretty quick to remind me that I did and that it demands satisfaction.  If I don't listen, it will keep pressing the point.  It is pretty relentless on that.

Running isn't mandatory then, in and of itself.  Food is.  It can be treated as mandatory though.  I can decide, "I'm going to run every day that I schedule it.  I don't care what comes up.  I'm going to find a way."

This isn't a new revelation for me.  It probably isn't one for anyone reading this either.  I knew this last year.  So why didn't I stick with it then?  The answer... I just lost that edge.  I started out treating it as mandatory, but at some point, it becomes easier to slack off once.

It always starts with "once".

I'll skip my run this one time.  I'll run tomorrow instead.  Tomorrow, it rains.  Or, tomorrow I have to work late.  Tomorrow, I'll find an excuse why it has to move to another tomorrow.  And on it goes.

Sooner or later, even making excuses gets to be too much trouble, and I just stop trying.

I can see it in my results for last year.  Here's how it breaks down:

Jun-2012, 15 workouts
Jul- 2012, 27 workouts
Aug-2012, 8 workouts (hmm)
Sep-2012, 6 workouts
Oct-2012, 1 workout
Nov-2012, ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz
Dec-2012, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Yup, that's where it ends up to this month.  It wasn't a decision to quit running.  It was just a decision to put it off to tomorrow.  The result looks very similar to quitting I know, but it's very different.  Trust me on this one. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What is a "Runner"?

Week 1 Workout (Did Workout 3 Yesterday)

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

 Week 2 Workout (Did Workout 1 Today)

2 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

This is a dual post.  I ran the third workout for Week 1 of the "Couch To 5K" program yesterday (Saturday), but I didn't get around to posting.  I also ran the first workout of Week 2 today!  So, This is sort of a two-parter.

Since it is a two-parter, it may be kind of long.  You have been warned.

Yesterday's workout was 8 sets of 60 seconds running, followed by 90 seconds walking.

This week's workout is 6 sets of 90 seconds running, followed by 90 seconds walking.

Both workouts were on treadmill. 

It's interesting how different things pop into my head when I'm running.  Today, my thoughts were on all the times I've tried to become a "runner" before.

Cue dreamlike imagery  like clouds rolling by or something, while I go into a flashback.  A harp would be nice too...   OK don't overdo it...

I tried to run long distances when I was in High School.  I had a crush on a girl I knew from church.  She was a star cross-country runner.  She inspired me to run!  Well, OK she inspired me to act like I was inspired to run, so that I could spend time with her.  But.... it counts!

She and her father also ran in a running club and went to various race events on weekends, and I volunteered to go with them to one of the events.  It was across town, and we piled into their Winnebago to head to the event.  It wasn't overnight or anything, so I'm not entirely sure why we went in the motor home, but we did.  I remember it, because it was old and the engine was very loud.  She and I played cards on top of the engine housing on the way.  It was "nice".

During the race, I got to record her lap times on a chart.  Nice of them to make me feel needed, even if I was pretty much just a tag-a-long.

So anyway, after that weekend, I resolved that I was going to be a cross-country runner too.  I started running.  I did great!  I ran every other day.  I ran when it was cold.  I ran when it was hot.  I loved to run.

I especially liked to run, because my running route "just happened" to take my right by my hot girlfriend's house.  OK, she wasn't so much my girlfriend.  But I wanted her to be.  So, I ran by her house.  She probably never knew I ran by the house.  It wasn't like I stopped there or anything.  But she was supposed to notice, and come tell me how great I was doing.  Alas, it never happened.

The grand total mileage between my house and hers, was.... probably about 1.5 miles, round trip.  I "thought" that was pretty good. In many ways, it really was.  Not everyone can run 1.5 miles without stopping.  Fewer people still, will go out and do that multiple times a week.  So it's not bad.  It really isn't setting a very high bar though.

So, I thought, "I need to do more!"  I decided I should join the school cross country team.  Did I mention I really liked this girl... a lot?

I signed up for cross country, and to my surprise, they actually put me in the class slot for it!  No sirens went off.  No cross country team police showed up to book me for impersonating a runner.  They put me in.

In retrospect, I probably should have trained harder from the time I signed up for the class, until the day classes actually began.  That might have helped me some.  Did I do that?  Of course not.

Nope.  I showed up for that first day of class, decked out in my sneakers (you mean you actually use special shoes for this?) and gym shorts.  I was probably about 180 pounds.  This isn't too bad for an adult runner.  In fact, I'd feel great about myself at 180 pounds right now.  However, I was 16 I think, and 180 pounds is pretty much a lard ass in high school.

Needless to  say, the other guys in the locker room were looking at me pretty funny.  Next thing I know, a coach is coming over to see me.  He said something to the effect of, "Can you run for the entire duration of practice?"

Can you really run for the entire duration of practice?

"Sure," I said.  "The class is only an hour.  I might have to walk a little at first, but I think I can get there before long."

"Son,"  he replied (You know you are in trouble when they start with "Son").  "The class is only for an hour.  The practice goes on for two more hours after school... every day."


That was my response, in case you missed it.  I couldn't say much else.  My mouth was hanging open in shock.

To my credit, I regained my composure and said, "Maybe I should think about moving back into a regular P.E. class?"

"I think that would be a good idea."

So I did.  After all, I wasn't a "real runner."

I was just a guy with a crush on a girl.  Maybe I could find something else to do to impress her (I didn't).  I forgot about running.  I moved on.  She did too.  *Sigh*

A few years later, and I'm in college.  I decide it's time to pick up running again.  I don't think there was a "particular" girl I was chasing at this point.  I think it was just a general "getting in shape to try to attract a girl" kinda thing.

So my best friend and I would run.  We were doing pretty good.  We'd run really hard and thought we were doing pretty good.  Then we'd head back to his apartment and eat pizza.  I'm sure this was a really effective workout strategy.  You see, while the pizza offset our running, we also drank crystal light with the pizza.  So that's 1 point for the run, minus one point for the pizza, plus 1 point for the crystal light.  We were plus one point for the evening.  I should patent that workout plan.  I bet it works!

Actually, it might have.  Before too long I actually had a girlfriend!  Success!

And what happens when you have a girlfriend?  You stop running - right. And so, I did.

That particular girlfriend didn't last much beyond a summer, and in all honesty, it felt like longer than that.  I loved her.  She loved my best friend.  *Sigh*  (He didn't love her back... so I was plus one in that situation too.  Hooray for me.  Actually make that.. plus a thousand)

I didn't start running again right away.

But I have at various stages of my life since then, with various degrees of success, ultimately ending in failure.

A common theme though, is that I didn't really ever consider myself "a runner".  Sure, I run in races on occasion.  I've finished a few 5Ks.  I've even run a few without stopping.  But that doesn't qualify does it?

I mean, we've all seen them.  We know what real runners look like.  Those are the guys who weigh, like, 75 pounds.  They have long, skinny legs that are solid muscle!  They finish 5K's in 15 minutes.  They talk about things like "fartleks", and their diet appears to consists mainly of gels... and pasta.

I'm not one of those guys.  I "want" to be one of those guys, but I'm not.  I'm 270 pounds (and dropping, thank you very much).   I currently could maybe run a complete mile if I was being chased.... by a very slow person.  I get passed on the track by the real runners.  Pfft... I even get passed on the treadmill by the real runners.

So can I claim to be one?

Perhaps the better question is, "will I ever be a real runner, if I don't start thinking of myself as one now?"


So, I'm a runner.  As Gimli say's in "The Lord of the Rings,"  I'm "very dangerous over short distances!"  Especially if I manage to bump into you or something.  You've been warned.

But I'm still a runner.  And tomorrow, I'll be a runner.  And the next day, I'll be a runner. 

Hopefully, I'll become a smaller runner.  One who is less dangerous for short distances, and more dangerous over longer ones.  I'm trying.