For the last 3 months I have been learning to run. Here is how:
Step 1 - I read Born to Run.
It was super awesome, educational, easy to read, and most importantly, inspirational. Instead of making you guilty for not running or watching TV, by telling stories of super disciplined olympic athletes, it told stories of individuals and even cultures who ran just because they liked it. It reminded me of my days in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade when I used to race the bus to school and ran just for fun before competition and fitness ruined it for me. I’ve bought the book as a gift for 3 people and you should consider checking it out. If you do, let me know what you think. BOOK LINK
Step 2 - I set up a way to run naturally.
I knew that treadmills weren’t going to cut it. I wanted it to be a part of my life so I incorporated it into something I’m already doing. For me, this is going to work. I decided to run into the office. It’s 6 miles roundtrip and I don’t need to provide myself some imagined or lofty purpose with my runs. I’m just trying to get to work and enjoy the outdoors and city on the way. It’s a great way to decompress and clear my head after a day of meetings too. It was kind of a pain to set up but I gave myself 2 weeks to get everything in place. For me this means extra clothes and shoes at the office, I bought an extra laptop to leave at the office because I want to run light, and I don’t plan any engagements 45 minutes before or after my last meeting.
Step 3 – I’m learning to enjoy running.
At one time I enjoyed it. But once I started running track, in 5th grade, I started hating running because it became an ends to a means. I wanted to get back to running for running sake and let the byproducts of health etc be BYPRODUCTS NOT the PURPOSE. I felt like if I could recapture an enjoyment for this movement I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life using discipline to get out there. For me this meant no iPods, no fancy shoes, no apps*, no mileage goals, no gps, no heart rate nonsense, no speed goals, no defined routes. I just run. I take different routes, say hi to people, enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the city and think about how awesome it is that I have legs and feet that were designed for this beautiful dance.
* I found it funny that when I told people I was going to start running the first question they asked is, “What app are you going to use?” as if it’s a requirement. Also, I don’t mind using any of those tools I just want to be careful that what I use and when I use it helps me accomplish my goal of falling in love with running and not just furthering the opposite goal of bearing it.
Step 4 – I’m running with people that I like.
For me 95% of my running is done with my kids. I don’t think I’ve ever run to work alone. Usually I take one or two kids with me and I have tried to dedicate the time to externally processing whatever comes to mind. It’s easy for me to get trapped in my mind and to think about who knows what, but I now have an hour and a half a trip with one or more kids to just talk about whatever. There’s no rush and now we spend a lot more time together than a car ride. I read that, for long distances, you should not run at a pace faster than which you can converse. So we never run so fast that we can’t talk.
Step 5 – I’m not making any excuses.
Rain, snow, sore muscles, 15 degree days, wind, not the right equipment. I realize that there’s a lot of reasons NOT to run, but any of the things I mentioned can actually be a part of the adventure once you get used to them. Quite often the first 5 minutes out of the door are hell, but then we end up shouting at the vertical ice while crossing the Ohio River; kind of like Lieutenant Dan on the shrimp boat in Forest Gump. Being as this was my first time running since high school (so more than 15 years) I’m still experiencing my fair share of pain. I have found that most of the injuries are not real and that in running through them it was strength I needed not rest.
Step 6 – I’ve set some impossible goals
This is a bonus one that pertains specifically to my personality. This last summer when we were hiking with our family on the 93 mile loop around Mt Rainier we got passed by a couple that had just set out to run the same loop in 36 hours (without sleep). I found out later that they didn’t finish, but for the rest of the 7 days I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So this summer my friend Sean, my brother Justin, and I are going to try the same feat. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it in 36 hours. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it in 48. I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to finish it. But we’re going to try and we’re going to have fun in the process. Either way, it will make a good story. I’m going to try and run 2 or 3 marathons with my 8 year old son before then as training which sounds a little crazy since I don’t think I’ve ever run more than a 5k.
So these are some of the dramatic changes that have been introduced in our life the last 3 months. I can’t emphasize enough that we are NOT “runners” any more than you. Running for us is a dramatic shift of our lifestyle based upon goals and a more holistic way to live. Hopefully you found some thought and encouragement that can be helpful to you.