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Running Into 50: Part 1

If someone had told me a few years back that I was almost 50 years old or that I could run a half marathon, I would have said, “That’s crazy,” or “No, sir,” or maybe even, “No he didn’t.” As I sit here writing this though, both are true. One of these, I didn’t have much control over it happening; I was going to get older and that was fine because it’s much better than the alternative. As for the other, I did have a choice and would actually have to plan to make it happen. In this post I am sharing a little bit about how and what I needed to do to prepare to run that race, as well as the others I’ve done since taking up the sport of running. Maybe more accurately in my case, the hobby of running.

I was in my mid 40s and, as is common for many people, I didn’t like the way my body was feeling. Things would hurt, even after just getting out of bed in the morning; after doing literally nothing but sleeping! When I did do something active with my kids, like snowboarding or bike riding, it would take days to recover. I have always been active, but I have never enjoyed going to the gym. Most of my exercise would come from team sports, and as it tends to happen over time, people on the team get pulled away for one reason or another; be it family, work or some other responsibility. The next thing you know, you are no longer in a soccer, volleyball or softball league because you can’t field a team. To be fair, the softball leagues were always more about the beer than the exercise, but I digress. So that’s where I was. It had been about five years of me not doing much in terms of active exercise, and I was really starting to feel it. I knew I had to do something, with the big 5–0 looming around the corner, but I didn’t know what.

It was about that time that I really started to notice all the 5K runs. It seemed like everything, from the schools to the local chapter of beard enthusiasts, were sponsoring a race. I had never been part of an organized run. In fact, I had been known to say the only time you’ll see me running is if I’m getting chased by a mountain lion. But something about it now seemed to catch my interest. It was something I could do as an individual participant. I didn’t need to buy any equipment (or so I thought) and, “Who doesn’t know how to run?” It’s just one foot in front of the other, and all that jazz. How hard could it be? Well, I was about to find out.

Fortunately for me, I had a few friends that were avid runners, and I decided to pick their brains on all of this running business. “What do I need? How do I start? Where do you run?” and anything else that could help me feel comfortable enough to start. A word of advice here: if you aren’t serious about trying running, don’t talk to runners. It is like a religion to many of them, and they were all too eager to recruit me. Within a week, I had a pair of running shoes, some tiny shorts, and had downloaded my first running app. My friends had gotten me all set up, and now it was up to me to take the first step.

I’ll pause here to talk a little bit about the technology, which was a big help in my success, and I would highly recommend it if you are starting from scratch. There are dozens of apps to help plan, track, and basically help motivate you to run. The ones I’ve used all do pretty much the same things. So, you just have to find one you like. I started out on the Couch to 5K app because that seemed the most appropriate.

Coming up: Inaction to action, things unexpected and final results.