I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually try running, or at least be curious about it. For one thing, my wife is a runner. She’s run seven road marathons, a trail marathon, and a trail 50K, along with 25 or so half-marathons. (She had to pause briefly to count them. I’m not sure how you lose count of how many half-marathons you run. My plan is to run exactly 0 half-marathons. More on that later. She says, “You say that now.” Feel free to laugh at me later. Or now.) My sisters are both runners – each has run at least one marathon, and one sister trained seriously at one time to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon (her effort and willpower were sufficient, but our family genetics were not). My brother-in-law is a runner, my niece is a runner, and at least one of my nephews is a runner. Our family’s total expenditure in shoes has probably kept several shoe stores functional as going concerns.
So why didn’t I try running before? Well, strictly speaking, I had run before: in junior high school, everybody had to run cross-country as part of the program. This involved a trip through the Deerlick Creek ravine northeast of the Don Valley Parkway and Lawrence Avenue, a grind up the (short) hill on Brookbanks Drive, and then down the hill to my school, Milneford Junior High (which no longer exists under that name – I wasn’t happy there, so I’m okay that the name is gone). And everybody also had to do the 12-Minute Run twice a year, which was basically a test to see how many laps of the junior high school track you could do in 12 minutes. Less than 6 laps (each lap was about a quarter-mile) led to effective ostracism – I basically struggled through about 6 laps each time, after reaching a resting pulse rate of over 200 (I counted it once). That was no fun at all. Did I mention that I am glad that my junior high school is gone? (And don’t get me started on the Canada Fitness Test. I got bronze once, and flunked out every other time. Ugh.) These aren’t the sort of experiences that encourage a person to become a future runner. Besides, this was the 1970s, and people weren’t running much yet.
But there are three reasons why I never considered running as an adult. One is intrinsic laziness – running seems like hard work. I like being active, but why suffer? The second was that I took up recreational volleyball when I was in my mid-thirties, which is about 15 years later than most people do it. I wasn’t exceptionally good at it, but I continued for two reasons: (a) it was fun, and (b) I am tall, which is a good attribute for a volleyball player. (I never really learned how to spike. Argh.) However, because I knew squat about training, volleyball destroyed my knees for a few years. It got so bad that walking for a few minutes led to two days of pain, and I went 13 years without riding a bicycle; eventually, it cleared up, and I went back to distance walking and eventually biking. The third is that my body is built weird. I have short hamstrings, so I bounce when I walk, I can’t come close to touching my toes, and I can sit cross-legged effortlessly. (I was teased a lot in junior high school. See earlier comment about being glad that it is gone.) If I tried running, would I irretrievably break something?
But, after a while, I realized that my knees didn’t bother me anymore, and anything I broke could possibly be fixed, so I figured, why not try it? If I don’t try it, I’ll never know if I like it! I was going to try it in the fall of 2015, but I pulled a leg muscle doing a stretching workout and then developed a blood clot in the leg (I’m fine now), so I had to put it off. But, by May 2017, the stars were in alignment, so let’s see how this goes.
In my next entry, I will write about Purchasing The Shoes. I’m sure that you can hardly wait.