Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why run?

Why do I run?

I guess a good way to begin my blog is on running... Why do I run? Keeping off weight. Staying healthy and in shape. Stress relief. Staying in touch with the outdoors after work days indoors. These are all good reasons.

For me, though, it really adds up to self-preservation. In 2003, I weighed 286 lbs. Even at almost 6' 3", that's big. Not good for the knees, ankles, or heart. I had high blood pressure. It finally struck me -- living like this as I got into my 40s could put me on the path for an early heart attack.

So, I decided to take up running. I started with walking, adding short jogs now and then to raise my heart rate. These developed into short jogs with walk breaks. I cut out empty carbs (sugars, non-whole-grain starches). I began to drop weight. This allowed me to run more, and further.

I set a goal of doing a 5K -- about 9 months later I did my first. A few weeks later I did my first 10K, which was the furthest I'd ever run. Next goal -- a half marathon. I did my first six months later and won the master's Clydesdale division (at an amazingly slow time). The roll has kept going since, with a marathon 7 months later, and eventually ultramarathons. I weigh a lot less - 75 pounds less. I run 30 to 40 miles most weeks. Still not especially quickly, but I get these miles on my feet.

Most days I look forward to getting out on a run. Many days, it is one of the highlights of the day. Some days, however, it would be easy to make an excuse and stay in. That's when I remind myself of one of my favorite lines from a post to the the internet mail listserver for ultramarathon running, the Ultralist: "It's not like I've ever knocked out some miles and said, 'hmmm, that sucked. I wish I wouldn't have done that'." I owe the author of that quote thanks for the motivation.

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