Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A New Runner's Tale of a Fast Addiction

I've been running for the last few weeks (and months if you count treadmill time). I've never liked running. In fact I used to despise it. When I participated in track it pained me to do 2 laps of jog-stride just because of the distance. Sure I made it through, but since the first mile of a long run is the worst, I only knew any distance over sprinting distances meant pain and suffering. It should be noted again that I wrote "participated" instead of "competing" since I sucked and also didn't try too hard at practice so there really was little chance I would improve. At practice, I positioned myself into sprint races, not because I was fast, but because they were so short. I ran everything from the 400 M (sprint) to the 110M high hurdles and even threw some discus and javelin. I was just happy getting credit on my high school transcript.

Ahhhh!!! Where's the rest of his right leg???

For the next 8 years, I could count on my hand the number of times I ran for more than a mile without stopping. Sure, I played tons of basketball, football, and (you know all too well) occasional ultimate frisbee so I still did plenty of running of over a mile, but not a constant run. Only ultimate comes closest to making me run the entire time, and even then I can walk or jog between points. I guess I should always be running in every sport, but pickup games don't expect such effort. After tearing a ligament in my right knee, I was hesitant to try any sudden-stopping sports because I feared my leg wouldn't be there for me. I still wanted to exercise and got frustrated when I had to place my bicycle in the car. This only left me with long distance my significant other's delight.

Philly has Rocky and the art museum...well DC has Abraham Lincoln!

My SO was a high school running phenom who was a two-event long distance state champion before the end of her sophomore year. Just great. Here I am hating running while she can't run enough. I had been told by others with like mindsets of my own that it's hard at the start, but once you get going, you can't stop. Whatever. The 1st mile hurts too much anyway so I might as well go lift weights or something.

Does this only apply to cars?

Lo and behold, we had some warm days in January and my SO gets me to run a few times. She always wanted someone to run with and I'm not about to let her run on her own without my (not so) brave-self protecting her from our (not at all) dangerous neighborhood. After our first run, it became apparent my beatup sneakers and uncoming soles don't have what it takes to even run a mile (a built-in excuse for the first run). We buy some New Balance shoes and New Balance socks made for flatfooted folks like me and I immediately feel a difference - Part physical from better shoes and part mental knowing I have better shoes so I should run better...damnit! We keep running and slowly, but surely, I run more often and further while complaining less and less. She gave me the pace courtesy by running at my slower speed when I knew she could zoom by me at anytime.

She'll be coming the mountain when she comes...

I still hate the first mile and a half, but so does everyone. Once you get past that mark, you reach that nirvana known as runner's high. It's not so much a euphoric feeling as it is a lack of feeling in your lower extremities that prevents you from feeling any pain or discomfort while running. Since March, temperatures have been plenty warm for the regular running I now do about 3 times a week. I never thought I'd enjoy running long distances, but now I can't help myself. It helps when there are several good running routes around DC and the Potomac River, but more than that, it just feels good.

Here's how you build your own running shoes...let me know when you finish.

I may even sell my thrice-used and much heralded bike, but let's not walk that plank just yet. I've even entered the Race For the Cure, my first race since high school. It's a 5k or about 3.1 miles (who knew running would teach you measurement conversion?). I might even post my time if it's halfway decent. Until then, here's to few shin splints, twisted ankles, and hoping traffic starts to acknowledge runners in crosswalks by the Memorial Bridge.


sammygeerock said...

Jews were not meant to run! We stand up and fight! (Except that whole WWII thing.)

Chacho said...

That was cool. Thanks for sharing. Good luck on your 5k.

E :) said...

An inspirational post. I have always run, however never very far. I much preferred sports like tennis (at which I was terrible) and touch football. But now I've signed up for the Marine Corps marathon and I'm hoping that I, too, get to that stage where I look forward to running and can no longer feel my legs!

B and T Crowd said...

I tried running yesterday but my right knee decided against it, but I can't really complain if you're training for a marathon. Good luck! I'm glad you found the blog and it has helped, even a little, toward you reaching your marathon goal.

MappyB said...

Nice, good for you on running. I've started on the treadmill, but I need to take that much needed, and dreaded jog outside. It's TOTALLY different.

I was reading an article about runner's high. I've never had it, I'm new to this whole 'moving thing'. I started a blog about my workouts. This article has actually motivated me to find a track nearby. Know of any in Arlingon?