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Running Into 50: Part 2

So this was it, it was go time! I was ready to start what seemed like a natural thing for people to do. I mean, kids do it all day every day, and are screaming and smiling from ear to ear the whole time. I was going to be a runner! Unfortunately, kids and 46-year-old men have a lot more differences than you might think. After about two minutes of running I was ready to pass out. My vision was narrowing, my heart pounding, and my brain was in constant communication with every part of my body. Telling it to “Stop!” and asking it “What are we doing?” and “Is something chasing us?” Fortunately, the way beginner training works is you run for a bit, and then walk, then run again, and then walk again, and so on, until you’ve done your first 30 minutes. I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was a great way to ease me into the routine, to get my body used to doing something that it wasn’t used to, and more than anything, to just get me off the couch. The first few weeks were tough. I was sore, I didn’t have the lung capacity or cardiovascular ability yet, and I was extremely slow. However, I did quickly start to see improvement and have a sense of accomplishment every time I was able to run a little faster or go just a little bit farther, and that kept me going.

It was after a few months that I found an unexpected benefit occurring. When I would run, I could feel myself go into a meditative state. I was never that interested in the common practice of meditation – you know, sit still, close your eyes and think about a stream in the woods by a small cabin – but something about the sound of the repetitive pounding of my shoes on the trail, the cool morning air, and the birds chirping, all helped me to relax and relieve stress. It was great! I had started running to help with my physical conditioning, but by doing it I was also helping my emotional state. At this point I knew starting to run was definitely in my top 10 best decisions of all time!

So, that’s how it went. I continued the training plan, and after a few months I entered and ran my first 5K. It wasn’t done in record speed, nor did I sign a shoe deal, but I did it. I’d reached a goal that seemed impossible a few months earlier. I followed that race up with several more 5Ks, with some 10Ks mixed-in. About a year later I thought, “Why not try a 10-mile race?” until I finally reached running a half marathon. Two years, and over one thousand miles after starting running, I had trained for, and run a half marathon. I was feeling healthier than I’d felt in a long time, and had found a community to be a part of. I’m still running, and can’t imagine not doing it. It’s now something I need to do to feel like I’ve had a full, productive day or week. I see plenty of people running who are older than me, and I know that I, too will be running into 60, 70 and on…

If you’re thinking about starting a new hobby or sport, I’d encourage you to do what you need to do to take that first step. I’m glad I did.