I really like running. I always have. Since maybe 4th grade when I started doing 5k fun runs for my mom’s work, I’ve been running in some form. Maybe not regularly or with a purpose, but getting out and dropping a one or five mile run in at any given time is a cool skill to have. With the exception of a one or two year window post-college where I sucked in general as a person, and a few months here or there where I was injured, I have been able to run a 5k on any given day for nearly the last 30 years. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been very good, but I always tried hard. In Junior High, 8th Grade, I did cross country. I sucked. Hard. Like nearly last place in every race hard. The funny thing was, I didn’t really care that much. Going on trail courses, through woods, was pretty fucking cool and even if I didn’t see anyone else after they all smoked me, I had a fun time making sure I finished without stopping.
As an adult after that post-college funk (smoking, slothlike existence), I still remember the exact day when I decided to start running again. My in-laws were over at our house, one of those stop-in visits and I felt like I needed to do SOMETHING to get away. By then, I realized I was out of shape and needed to to kick myself in the ass and get moving again. Since I have always enjoyed running, I decided right then and there I would start again. I threw on some old shoes, and just went. I didn’t make it a quarter mile before I had to stop and walk. The route I wanted to take was maybe, maybe 1.5 miles. Sucking wind most of the way, and walking every minute or so, I finished it. Out of breath and sweating, I was asked how it was by my in-laws. “Hard” I said.
That was one of the first steps I took to get back in shape. Later, when I was doing 20 mile runs training for a marathon or Ironman, I would pass those spots and remember those first steps to the journey. I’m not one of those that put a lot of stock into times as a measuring stick of self-worth, but I did get reasonably fast for someone who wasn’t ever, nor ever will be, a good runner. I did exactly one stand-alone marathon in my life (3:27:53) and two marathons as part of my Ironman races (3:46 and 4:10). My favorite longer races were a nearby 20 mile race, a trail half marathon with a lot of terrain and elevation gain and a Halloween half marathon that I ran in full on Mad Hatter costume.
Though I never was a big “fun run” guy, maybe only having done 10 over the years, today I run only for mental health. Running allows me to let go of the in-your-face thoughts and explore things deeper. I’m not looking to get fit or burn calories when running, and I know I’m not doing the so-called “chronic cardio” which is so often demonized by those in the health community these days since I’m only out once or twice a week. Running for me isn’t about fitness, it is mental health. I dropped in about a 4 mile run in some wintery weather over the weekend because that’s what I needed – not another day in the cold gym on a sunny Sunday. I had to see some sunshine and feel the air.
I’m not the only heavy lifter doing longer runs. Captain Power writes about running and its role in keeping him lean as well. Just because it’s not a prescribed workout aspect, don’t necessarily take things off your plate. While I rarely do anything over an hour or more on the cardio side, I still like being able to jump in and do a two-hour bike ride with friends, or Tough Mudder or a longer trail run just for fun. My goal is lifetime fitness, life happiness, strength and looking good naked. I’m not so regimented that I always follow the rules, especially since I do like other things so much.
Anyways, keep on running (just hit “play” on the link- a song by the Dance Hall Crashers – a ska favorite of mine).