Running has been part of my life for over 20 years. I am now 55 so I actually got started late in life when compared to many runners. I have always been an avid sports fan and felt I was a decent athlete growing up. I played many sports, but never pursued high school sports placing work and money ahead of athletics. Looking back, I would have done things different, but those are the lessons we learn through life and share with the younger generation.
In college and afterwards I played on many intramural softball and basketball teams. I loved the competition and enjoyed the comradery. When my oldest daughter was born in 1994 I put the intramural sports on hold and took up running. Many people call running a team sport, but I certainly disagree. I have never participated in any sport as lonely as running. I will go out and run ten miles and say hi to a few passersby, but that is it. When I played “team” sports we were talking from start to finish. Sure, you can join running groups and train with others, but on race day it is all about you.
What has inspired me to run is the desire to compete and know it is all up to me. I love the team sports, but with a team success is sometimes out of your hands. It can be frustrating. With running, my success and failures are all on my shoulders and I love it. I am certainly not the best runner out there, but I will be competitive. In my age group I feel I am one of the best in my region. Are there better runners, of course and I know who most of them are. If they fall back on their training I will be right there to take the crown. I am sure there are many others who feel the same about me.
I miss the team sports, but I have grown to appreciate what running has offered me over the years. I am a stronger person mentally because of my running. It has kept me young and I focus on a very healthy lifestyle to stay competitive. Running has so many benefits it’s hard to rattle them all off, but I will name a couple I am most excited about:
Body Weight – to stay competitive I have had to ensure I stay at a very healthy/competitive weight. I am 5’10” and weigh 160. Maybe a bit heavy for a runner, but I lift weights and would prefer to have an athletic physique versus a runners physique (minimal upper body muscle tone).
Nutrition – It goes hand in hand with weight. If I eat healthy the results will show up in my running. I certainly indulge in the sweets and fats once in a while, but never on a daily basis. The saying is true, “you can exercise until the cows come home but if you don’t eat properly you will just be another cow coming home.”
Mental Toughness – I have learned to be tougher mentally. I am willing to take on challenges I may have backed away from before. If I can get myself up at 4:30 am every morning to run I can certainly take on the daily challenges of life. Break the big picture down into small chunks just like we do with running. The little chunks are much easier to deal with then a mountain. Chip away at the chunks and the next thing you know the mountain is gone.
Goal setting – I set running goals every week. I try to do the same with my personal and work life. Goals give us meaning and something to strive for. Without goals we are a rudderless ship; knowing we want to get somewhere but not sure how, if or when we will get there. Goals can force us to create plans.
Self-confidence – I always feel good after a run. Knowing I put in 5 miles before many people get up in the morning is a great feeling. I literally hit the ground running every morning and I carry that into my profession.
Togetherness – I am fortunate to be part of a very active family. At times we will run together and the bond it forms is amazing.I am fortunate to be able to run and will continue to run until my body says stop. I hope that won’t happen for many years to come. I look forward to seeing all of you out there on the road and possibly at a race. I certainly want to win, but if you beat me I will be the first to congratulate you. Competition drives me to train hard and the health benefits of running will keep me going well beyond my competitive years.