Monday, December 17, 2007

Latest Endeavor: Running

I've run on and off for many years. Mostly off. Except for a period of 6 or 7 months in the late 80's, I've never persisted for more than 2 months. Every time, it ended with a foot, leg, knee (insert lower limb here) injury. Having kids left me in a perpetual state of physical and emotional fatigue that always gave me an excuse not to get back to it.

I've never been a great runner. I'm slow. My personal best on a 10k is 49:55, back when I was 25.
Now I've started to run again at the age of 43, with the firm intention of running until it is physically impossible for me to keep going.
This time, I started running on August 13th to improve my cardio for another of my ridiculous endeavors: flat water canoe/kayak racing. The Canadian Master's championship was coming and I needed to improve my fitness level. More on Canoing in summer posts. I've been running ever since. I've made two changes to my routine that I believe will make the difference:

  1. I'm actually following a training program. I've purchased a number of books (see below), actually read them and I'm actually following a rigourous program.

  2. I'm a geek and acquired a Garmin Forerunner 305. I could bore you to death writing pages about it but suffice it to say that I have never run without it ever since I bought it. It is now my voice of reason that tells me to slow down or speed up.

When I first started using my GPS/HR monitor gizmo, I immediately realized that I was running too fast, too often. My 305 keeps me honest. I'm convinced this is one of the main reasons why I always ended up injured.

Why running?

A lot of people have negative feelings about running. My older daughter can't stand it. Every time I've ran in the past, it ended in injury. So why running?

I like the concept of going somewhere on my own power. There's nothing like the feeling you get while running, especially on a long run. I feel stronger, sharper, lighter (I lost over 10 pounds), more alive.

Why racing? Why do I actually care about my time? Why do I want to beat the 49:55 I did 20 years ago? Isn't that unreasonable? Well we'll see about that! I guess that deep down, I believe that if I beat that time that means that I'm still 25. Just like I feel. Can any of us really believe we're getting older? When my body gets fat and lazy, that's when I start to actually feel old. After a 10k run, especially a race, I feel so alive that I sometimes feel like I can physically see things clearer. Call me crazy. But in those moments, I feel better than 10 years ago.

Anyway, I will beat that 49:55 soon. I will run a marathon. I promised my wife I wouldn't run a marathon next year, but I probably will. I can feel that challenge seducing me every time I read other blogs or talk to other runners. I have never read or heard a runner say: don't do it.

My initial plan was to build up my speed in 2008, concentrating on medium distances (5k t 10 Miles) and then graduate to half-marathon and marathon in 2009. We'll see. Maybe I could squeeze a marathon at the end of 2008?

Will I ever run a Boston-qualifying time in a marathon? Too early to say. Maybe my body can't physically do it. Even if I can, maybe I'm not ready to invest the time and effort required for me to do it. One thing is for sure, I'm not a naturally fast runner.

I guess I rambled enough for this first running post. I'll try to be more structured in the future.

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