Month: August 2014

Finding The Time

Disclaimer: Running is not for everyone. This article is not meant to imply otherwise. The principles here go for any hobby or pursuit, so no offense meant to non-runners, and – I hope – none taken. Deal?

As I began a run one night, I waved to two of my neighbors having friendly discussion in one of their front lawns. Five miles and a little less than an hour later, I returned. The neighbors were still there so I walked over to say “Hi.”

“You must really enjoy running,” one of them said. “Yes,” I replied, “It’s great in so many ways.” And then he asked “How do you find the time?”

At this point a pause to reflect is in order. I had just logged five miles while this gentleman stood near the sidewalk and talked, then wondered how I found time to run. Do you catch the irony?

“How do you find the time?” is a question all runners hear on a regular basis. I’ve gotten it from people who follow three or four night-time dramas, from a man who told me he sits on his patio and smokes a cigar every evening, from guys who never miss a televised game of the hometown sports teams, etc.

Runners know that it’s not about finding the time. That’s just as difficult for us as for anyone. It’s about how we use the time we have. I’ve left the party way before I wanted to on many occasions because I had to get up at 4:30am the next day. I’ve been sorely out of the loop re: who’s trending on American Idol and the latest viral video. I’ve taken an extra long lunch break to cross train at the gym and had to catch up on e-mail after dinner. It’s part of the lifestyle.

My running buddies are CEOs, single moms, surgeons, blue collar workers, attorneys, college students, and more. And there we all are several times a week, at the track or the park or the streets. A CPA friend trained for a marathon during tax season. That’s dedication.

Once in awhile even the most hardcore have to skip a workout. When the child is sick, the friend is in need, the work deadlines loom, or the laundry pile gets too high, we might have to adjust. But we get back to it just as soon as possible, realizing that “I don’t have time” is a slippery slope.

Time alone isn’t the issue. Making running, or anything considered important, a priority and sacrificing to accomplish it is. Of course the benefits outweigh whatever we have to give up, so on the grander scale there’s joy rather than just a burden.

Everyone gets the same number of hours each week. I have no quarrel at all with people who use them differently than I use mine. But at least now you know how runners find the time. We find it because it’s there.

 

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Runner’s Hi

Running is a social sport, believe it or not. This plays out on many levels.

It starts with warm greetings as runners pass each other on the roads. These range from an enthusiastic “Good morning! Isn’t it beautiful today?” in the early miles to a withered smile and a grunt as fatigue sets in. All are equally sincere and understood.

At most every organized race, participants are given a commemorative t-shirt. Wearing one anywhere in public almost always prompts a conversation. “I see you ran the Bay To Breakers Marathon in 2012,” some random stranger in a restaurant will say. “I did it last year. It’s an amazing course.” And the spirited dialogue begins.

Several kinds of more subtle communication also exist. Certain jackets, shoes, bracelets (like the popular Road ID), and other forms of runners’ secret handshakes abound. I once had a bonding experience with a woman while we were waiting in line to use the lavatory on an airplane. It started when I saw her 140.6 pendant, indicating that she had completed an Ironman Triathlon. We do spot each other from across the room.

Perhaps the pinnacle of social engagement is the running club. Most cities have them, usually sponsored by a local running store. They are inexpensive to join and have group runs throughout the week accommodating all levels from beginners to speed demons. Even if you take part only now and then, they’re well worth it and add a dimension of community.

My running friends are a significant part of my life. A few of us have formed deep relationships. Rubbing shoulders for ten to 20 miles on a Saturday morning will do that. We talk about everything as we run. Parenting rebellious kids, workplace challenges, marriages (present and past), even politics, religion, and sex. Nothing is off limits when you’re sweating and trying to divert your mind from the difficulty of the effort. And where else could a guy my age hang out with so many lean females!

So to anyone looking for a great group of peeps, my advice is simple. Head out to the nearest retailer of running shoes. Get the pair that suits you, ask about a running club, and by all means hit the streets. Soon you’ll experience the many variations of the runner’s “Hi.”

(P.S. – Of course running alone brings its own benefits as well. Those are explored in my article “On The Road To Peace.”)

 

“Two Easy” Is Not Too Easy

Runners talk about various types of workouts. One of them is the “easy” run. You’ll hear them say things like “Let’s do five easy”, meaning five miles at a moderate, conversational pace.

This takes me back to the day I decided to become a runner. I laced up my brand new running shoes (Brooks Addiction), which I purchased early that week at a real running store (Runner’s Depot). To further prove that this act was premeditated, I had clocked the distance of the loop around my neighborhood and found it to be right at two miles. That would be my route.

Out the door I went and took off. But then reality set in. In less than a quarter of a mile I was out of breath and had to walk.

For some reason I tried again a couple days later, and many more times beyond that. Finally, after several weeks, I completed the two mile loop 100% on the run.

Although my workouts are a bit longer today, I’m totally convinced that two miles is a very respectable goal for anyone considering this wonderful sport. It will burn a couple hundred calories, relieve stress, and for most it will fulfill the medical field’s suggestion of elevating one’s heart rate for 20 minutes. What’s more, it doesn’t require a huge time commitment, making it doable within most any schedule.

So if two miles of running is all your wildest dreams can imagine, be encouraged. Non-runners will bow before you in awe. They’ll look in disbelief and say “Really? You ran two whole miles before work this morning? Without stopping?” And runners of all levels will applaud you heartily, because we all remember our first time out, and realize that “two easy” is not too easy.