Monday, June 6, 2011

Run, baby, run

Even though you may not guess it based on a look at me (6'5", 325 lbs, built more like an NFL linebacker than anything else), I used to be a pretty good distance runner when I was younger. I was always athletic in my youth (I played basketball and baseball for years and still try to when I get the chance), but when I was in high school I ran on the Cross-Country Track team for 3 years and enjoyed it a lot. I knew I would never be the fastest or best on the team, but I did it for fun and to get in great shape. Alas, as I got older and progressed through school, I just didn't have time for running as much as I used to. Now, at 31, I've got a full-time job, an awfully long commute into Boston every day, a wife, 4 kids, responsibilities, etc, so squeezing in time to go the gym has been tough since the last time I was able to make it there several months ago.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and I decided to finally get back in to running. I've been relatively active over the last several years, but it's always been in spurts. I went to the gym religiously all of last summer and fall, but then I had jaw surgery and life got busy and I haven't been back since. When we lived in South Carolina a few years ago, I used to jog every night, but then we moved back up to New England, I started a new job, and that fell by the wayside. And so on...

I decided to get back into jogging for a few reasons. I can do it anywhere, at any time (within reason), and all I need is a pair of running shoes. Taking into account that I'm not as young or as light as I was 15 years ago, I've started slowly, but the amazing thing I've found is that I'm able to ramp it up quite quickly. I have no intention of ever running a marathon, but I'd like to at least regularly run a 5k (when I ran XC Track, our official races were 5ks). I've gone out for 7 runs over the last couple of weeks and have been able to ramp up from 1.50 miles up to 2.60 miles, and I feel great. I'm amazed how much I can feel the improvement in my wind, my endurance, my joints, etc. Then only thing slowing me down right now are a couple of blisters on the arches of my feet that won't go away and a cut on one of my toes that's a little sore.

I think the reason running appeals to me and so many others of people around the world is that it's probably the most primal and simplistic exercise you can do, and very individualistic. You don't need anything other than shoes and a place to run...and time to do it, of course. It's good for you (although you have to be sure to take care of your legs and joints) and it whips you into shape quickly. It also becomes quite addictive...there's something very soothing about hearing the rhythm of your own breathing and your feet on the ground, and it's a great way to de-stress after a long day. I've dropped 6 lbs in just the last two weeks and I look forward every day to my next run.

Any other runners out there? Why do you like it so much?