It Turns Out I Like Distance Running
When I was a kid one of my coaches told me: “you run like you have a refrigerator on your back!” And that’s likely true. A speed demon I was not. As a baseball player, I suspect there were times when my coach and teammates wondered if I’d be the first player ever to be called out after drawing a walk for failure to get to first base in a timely fashion. As a soccer player, I was the goalie so my running ability would remain hidden from the opposition.
So it will surprise many to know that I have turned into a runner. No, I’m not about to declare myself a competitive runner by any means, but I’m bordering on respectable (or perhaps just not embarrassing) for my age. Of course, if you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, you no doubt have picked up on my new running habit over the past few months as my runs have started showing up in those streams courtesy of the RunKeeper app I use on my iPhone to track time and distance.
Running is not an entirely new thing for me, it is just the fact that I am now regularly running for distance that is. When I worked on Capitol Hill almost two decades ago, I was a regular runner, logging almost daily runs of about 2 miles, with very occasional slightly longer runs. I even had a memorable unintended long run when I got lost in the Woodley Park area of Washington, DC and kept running around until I found a street I recognized.
Over the past few years, I have run for fitness on a treadmill, but not with any real regularity. Historically, I have been more of a stationary bike person when it comes to cardio workouts. I do like to run when I travel for business — especially in the early morning in cities like New York where you get an entirely different feel for the place. And when I’m in cities like New York, I do spend a lot of time walking — including for miles at a time — if my schedule permits time between meetings, events or activities and the weather cooperates.
A few months ago my treadmill at home broke, however, and so I took to the streets near my house as an alternative. As I started to run outside near my home more regularly, I rediscovered my interest in it. Soon I found myself pushing for longer distances and better times.
I still run a bit like I have a refrigerator on my back — or perhaps more accurately a 50 pound weight on my midsection — but I have been able to steadily increase my weekly distance, the length of my long runs, and improve my pace. Oh, and that 50 pound weight I’m carrying is smaller than the almost 100 pound weight I was carrying around 18 months ago.
Today, I achieved a real milestone — my first 10 mile run. I completed it at — for me — a respectable 10:59/mi. pace.
I plan to run in the CIGNA/Elliot 5k race in Manchester, NH this Thursday — my first official race. My goal is modest: I’d like to finish in less than 30 minutes. Based on my recent times, that should be achievable unless the temperature and humidity are too high.
In the fall, I have the Cape Cod Marathon on my calendar to participate in as part of a relay team. Then a few weeks later I plan to tackle the Seacoast Half Marathon in Portsmouth, NH as my first attempt at that distance in a race. Since my 10 miler went well today, I’m confident that by then I should be able to complete the 13.1 miles in a respectable time.
I’m still a pretty novice runner and picking up lots of tips and advice from my many friends who have been running farther, faster, and longer than me. If you can’t stand running and you’re following me here or on other social networks, my apologies for the increased chatter about the sport that will likely continue. It’s something that has a lot of my attention of late, so it’s one of the things I’ll be writing about.
And now, it’s time to spend some time recovering from today’s run and thinking about my training schedule for the coming week since I have to work it around running in the 5k on Thursday.