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Training Program Completed!

Training Program Completed!

So I finished up that 12 week training program at Fleet Feet in Huntersville – it was awesome, excellent, and most helpful. I really enjoyed the structure of it, and the knowledge that there were people expecting me to show up was a real motivator (although I do have to cop to at least two days of failure to appear due to various health related ailments).

Last night was our last run together before our Saturday “goal race.” My goal race is the CPCC Skyline Run, which is just a 5k, but it goes for scholarships, so I love doing that one just for the support of students alone, but it’s also a really fun race to do. I plan to wear my tutu again.

So as we lined up for our last set of drills together, I thought back to my first day doing those damnable drills, and how I just knew I had gotten myself into something heavier than I could manage. The drills were easy now – or at least they weren’t the workout that they were when I began, and I felt so proud of myself for being able to stick with something to the end. I not only stuck with it until the end, but I stuck with it until I saw an improvement.

I got so much out of this experience, I really do want to sign up for another one – however, the conversation surrounding the next program made it sound pretty horrible:  all speed drills at the track, in the summer. Yeah, gonna have to think long and hard about that one. But I really did enjoy doing the drills we did, and I would love to get faster.

Community

Community

I’ve never really run with a group. I have a vague memory of attempting to be part of the cross country team while in middle school and epically failing at it, and as I’ve aged, I haven’t done any better at developing a community around me. I saw an advertisement at a specialty running shop for training groups and dismissed it out of hand. First of all, I can do this all alone, thank you very much. I don’t need to pay someone else for this. Also, I’m too slow. I’ll hold everyone back. Finally, they’ll all know each other and I won’t know anyone, and who wants to go back to high school anyway??

Look, I never said it made sense. The brain is a strange creature.

Training group cycles came and went at Fleet Feet, and I continued not to join in. Finally, I went in for a new running bra or something, and picked up a flyer. The dude behind the counter answered all my questions and before I knew it, I was seriously considering joining up. Notice I’m still not ready to commit to something as basic as a running group, or as easy. I have commitment issues apparently.

So I go to the first workout and struggle. I mean, I really, really struggle. I’m not used to running with other people, I’m not used to running at night, and I’m not used to talking about my workout. I was fully and completely outside my comfort zone. And that’s not even taking into account the discomfort inherent in running itself, right?

This was maybe two months ago (mid-January) and yesterday I got to run 8 miles with my friends in the running group. We shared our energy chews, encouraged each other, watched each others’ backs, and cheered on the unofficial mascot (Pressley is her name – she’s a doodle of some description – very tall and leggy. She could be a model).

As an aside, I believe that Straxi could perform mascot duties alongside Pressley (apparently the duties largely consist of patiently sitting and waiting while we warm up, then trotting at Joe’s side until time to stop and poop, then resuming trotting by his side) and I’m shooting for getting Straxi to the point where she can be a part of a group like this, too. Oddly enough, I seem to have passed my inability to engage with others socially on to my dog. And all she has to do to get to know someone is sniff their butt. It’s not like she has to make sparkling conversation or anything.

My dog is not a social butterfly.

I’m so excited that I was able to do this – running that far is a first for me, and running with a group is now becoming a real treat as opposed to something I actively avoid. I love running on my own with Straxi, but at the same time, having people to run with (my own pack, as it were) is awesome.

I regularly read (and listen to) Ali on the Run, and she has talked on her blog and podcast a great deal about the November Project.  I wish we had a tribe here, because I think this is something I could really get into and enjoy. Plus, the summer gets ass hot and that’s just as bad as being super cold and I always need motivation to get out there and work. I’m not going to start a tribe on my own, though. I know I don’t have the staying power to establish a set schedule like that and stick to it – having other people depend on me at work and at home is enough. I don’t want to get that sort of crap into my exercise life, too.

I feel really protective of my running, now, in a way I didn’t before. I have multiple things I’m doing to make sure that I improve my running as much as I can (I’m seeing a sports-oriented chiropractor and a nutritionist, among other things), and I am careful about cross training to avoid injury but still improve my cardio ability, blah blah blah, the same stuff we hear and read all the time. But my running seems like it’s just so much in its infancy, I’m afraid that anything I do is going to knock it off its stride, if you’ll pardon the really bad pun.

But this is about improving, which is at its core, about change – what we were yesterday is no longer enough and we want to build on it and make it even better. So I’m trying to blow on the little spark, and keep it alive, even when I have really hard runs, or runs that aren’t really that great. I have never had a bad run, now that I think about it. I think that’s a good sign.

 

The Rain Finally Stops

The Rain Finally Stops

She refuses to run in the rain.
She refuses to run in the rain.

So the past few days have sort of been a blur of…well, rain and video games. The combination of the release of the newest DLC for Fallout 4 with some pretty steady rain has led me to grow roots and get stuck in the sofa with a controller in my hand.  I haven’t run with Straxi in days, but that will change soon, hopefully today, honestly, because I have it in my head that we are going to go exploring here, and the rain has held us off from that for quite long enough, thank you.

I had forgotten the trails on campus – or at least I had figured they had fallen victim to the constant and ongoing construction that seems to plague all of NC, even tiny Davidson. When I was a kid (and by “kid” I mean teenager – maybe 14 or so – certainly no older, because by 15 I was out of the house, smoking, and living a decidedly not-healthy lifestyle), I ran semi-regularly, and I biked as well. I remember this time as being predominantly exploration – basically what I do in video games, but in real life.  I would jump on my bike, or put on my shoes (we didn’t have running shoes back then, per se, we were limited to tying rocks to our feet with canvas rope, yes, I’m that old). I think I mostly explored the campus and the town because I was bored? Because I didn’t want to be at home? Because I didn’t want to do homework? Not sure. But I went out and explored not from any desire to be “fit” or to improve my 5k splits or anything crazy like that. I did it just because. This seems like the best reason to do that sort of thing, honestly. I just felt like it.

Occasionally, I took Trixie with me – my first canine running companion, albeit with only three legs, and much shorter than Straxi, but not often. When I went out in the early morning to run, I would let her run with me without a leash, which I thought was awesome, but now it’s impossible. Straxi would be jam in no time flat, and back then, there was literally one traffic light in town and really no need for that, to be honest.

But the trails were something I thought I had discovered, and I felt like they were mine. I stumbled upon them one day out running (which in retrospect is surprising, because that would have been a long distance for me to run, but I guess I really did run a lot, now that I really think on it). I wasn’t running with Trixie, or riding my bike, or listening to music (this was pre-Walkman days, remember). Davidson College had some huge fields on the outskirts of campus, and I wound up there one afternoon. I didn’t plan my runs – I just went. If I saw something interesting at the next turn, I would go that way. If I saw something scary at the next turn, I went the opposite way. Basically, I just sort of wandered.  To a certain extent, I still do that. I have a general idea where I want to go when I head out, and I know what’s a good route to hit if I have Straxi with me or not – I want her to enjoy running with me, and I want us both to be safe, and so our main road is one we want to stay off of. The drivers in this town are downright dangerous and our road has begun to be noisier than I-77, not to mention busier and faster, too.

But none of this was an issue when I ran as a kid. I just ran to run, and to see. I was so incredibly lucky to grow up here, and be able to return to here, and see so much of this town utterly unchanged (and, like the danger of the streets, unfortunately some of it really HAS changed, and drastically, for the worse).

I stumbled onto the trails late one afternoon when I was exploring the big fields behind the college. Maybe I meant to run laps around the fields, or maybe I just meant to run through them, but either way, I remember seeing a path – unmarked – leading into the woods. And yes, they legit were woods at that point, not just a little bit of trees or a bit of park. Of course, I could not leave this unexplored. Just like with my gaming habits, I want to see what’s over that next ridge in the game, or in this case, off the edge of the field.

So into the woods I went. I had no idea where I was. I had no cell phone or GPS (these were the dark days before science, and we all still thought the world was flat, since we couldn’t post photos to Facebook of what we were doing at that exact moment and hope for comments and approval from friends…we lived in scary times, indeed). I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a bit nervous at times during the run – when I say I didn’t know where I was, I mean I truly had moments when all I could do was trust in the trail, knowing that eventually it would end up SOMEWHERE, and I could navigate from that. The somewhere it wound up was a very old, very run down, very wooded cemetery (I later was told that this was a cemetery only for people of color, and I don’t know if this is true, but it certainly would make sense, in that it was small and off the beaten path. Can’t have the help going to their eternal rest with the gentry, after all).

I came out of the woods into this extremely peaceful, beautiful, serene area, and was simultaneously creeped out and intrigued. A cemetery not attached to a church? This was unusual to me – all cemeteries were behind/beside/around churches, in my experience (granted, at that point, what experience I had had was oh, so incredibly limited), so I had to wonder where the church was, what had happened to it, why was this burial area so hidden away?

I understand the politics (or at least, I’m trying to) surrounding the racially based treatment that went on and continues to go on in the South, even as I continue to be surprised at how normal it was to me to grow up next to a cemetery that boasted CSA dead, as I attended a church with a massive monument to the Confederate soldiers and army. I do manage to maintain a fog of “that’s just how things are” that allows me to avoid some of the ugliness of life, honestly, and I know what a huge, enormous, offensive amount of privilege that is. Sometimes I feel like I should be swanning about with a parasol, bathing my skin in buttermilk and eating massive amounts of ham and biscuits before I go to any sort of social gathering so as to be able to avoid gobbling like a hog in front of the gentlemenfolk.

I don’t know if I spent a whole lot more time on the trails surrounding the college after I discovered them – I know that I returned to them a few times, at least, but I also know that my time for unfocused, unintentional discovery was running out at that point (I didn’t know it then – see above paragraph re swanning about). I hope that this summer break allows me the time and freedom to be creative without boundaries, and to take pictures, and write, and stumble across areas I had forgotten or never appreciated in the past.

In Which I Consider Writing as a Practice

In Which I Consider Writing as a Practice

This is the practice school of writing.  Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run.  It’ll never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.

(from Writing Down the Bones)

Well, if this isn’t right on for me, I don’t know what is.  A little backstory here…

So I have no classes to teach over the summer – none. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Not by my choice, really, but just the way things worked out with my schools (my father, the alarmist, rang up my sister saying that the family had to be prepared to help me out since I had “lost my job.” Yeah, Dad, that’s not EXACTLY how adjuncting works, but that’s apparently how overreacting works, so it’s all good).

The up side to this is that we are ok financially for me to take off the summer. I have a list of things I want to do over the summer, largest of them being to write.  I have a story I need to tell, and it’s one that’s mine to tell, and no one else’s, and it’s important to me that I tell it, and I own it (I came to understand this after reading this amazing memoir:  Straight Pepper Diet, which I heard about on the Rich Roll podcast). But it’s hard work, writing about something painful, and that made you cry when it was going on, but it’s also good work. My arms and legs and back are sore from the work I did in the yard yesterday (work I did to avoid the work sitting in this damn chair, apparently), so it’s obvious that ALL work makes us hurt, but some types of pain are actually positive – they remind us that we are changing, growing, and effecting our world in some way. I made a mark on my yard, which is good and I can feel it in my body.

So I have this whooooooole long summer (that I realize, no, is not really that long, in the grand scheme of things, but on this side of things, it feels pretty long, especially when I think NO MORE PAYCHECKS), and the main, biggest things I want to do this summer are (1) train for the 10k in September (longest run I have done is a 5k) and (2) write/work on my story. So those are my two goals, and while I haven’t been out of school long (a week maybe?) I have noticed a tendency to do anything – and I mean ANYTHING – to avoid doing the two things I ostensibly WANT to do most of all, since I made them the point of the summer.  Here are the things I did yesterday to avoid writing:

  1. Organize my music on my phone
  2. Organize two cabinets in my kitchen
  3. Play my video game
  4. Take Straxi out
  5. Mow the back yard
  6. Weed the garden

Apparently the way to start writing is to do every possible chore in the world, twice. After you finish, THEN you can sit in front of the computer screen and put bit-pencil to byte-paper. I understand now why good writers have gone to such extremes to ensure that they have uninterrupted time in which to write:  we are really, really good at not writing, and we sure don’t need help from anybody else (I’m looking at you, Straxi) to distract us from our intended daily page count.

I’m thinking that this blog will be a great way for me to limber up before I start off on my “real” writing, because when I actually did write day before yesterday, I found that as I was finishing up, I was really starting to find my cadence.

So far what I’ve written on My Story is really pretty horrible, but it could just be that the material I am working with is really hard for me to work through. I think it’s important for me to do it, though, because it’s MINE, and I want to own it and understand it, inside and out, and also because I don’t want to forget it. It was horrible, but it’s MY horrible, and actually, not all of it was horrible.

So I hope to use this blog as an opportunity to stretch, sort of, before I start training on my story. After, when I have said my piece for the day, I will move to training my body and working on that 10k race. I can use it as a treat, sort of, for me and for Straxi.

My view as I try to work...
My view as I try to work…
I Resolve…

I Resolve…

In the process of filling out this reflection of the past year and planning for the coming year, I discovered a list of resolutions I made after my birthday this past year. I’m sort of surprised at how well I did in keeping up with them, although (as is fairly normal) I failed on a few. But this year part of my work is going to involve treating myself more nicely, and not allowing the demands/desires (perceived or stated) of others to beat out what I want.

Of course, this requires that I actually **know** what it is that I want. This is a challenge for me, as I have spent the entirety of my life pretty much existing to please other people.

As Roger Murtaugh famously said, “I’m too old for this shit.” And yeah, I’m thinking I’ve reached the age where if I don’t stop caring what other people think about my choices, I’m going to have a bad time.

So that’s one of my resolutions, essentially. I want to know what I want, and then I want to do it (if I can – yeah, I want to be Wonder Woman, but that’s NOT in the cards, obviously, and wings would be epic, but we have to stick with the laws of physics here).

As an aside about the pictures I’ve used in this post  – I am constantly amazed that my pop culture touchstones involve women who look so different from those of today. Wonder Woman, the bug woman, none of them seem to have the super-desirable thigh gap of today. But yet I still managed to develop such an unhealthy relationship with my body and with food. What gives?

So as a result of this thinking and planning, I’m going to take my running and training more seriously. I want to accomplish more this year, both physically and with my work, and neither of those things is going to happen if I’m playing Fallout 4.

I Invoke the M Word and Training is Considered

I Invoke the M Word and Training is Considered

Straxi and I went on a lovely run Friday. Not a long run, but it was nice time spent together anyway. We walked downtown and deposited some money in the atm, and honestly, Straxi seemed very confused by all this sort of thing – all the people, cars, other dogs – she just seemed very unsettled. We usually run on the greenway, and so I can understand her difficulties, certainly. I sometimes wonder how much she trusts me to be able to navigate us home, and get us where we need to be. I think she thinks she needs to run everything, even from the opposite end of the leash.

I want to start focusing on another race – I’ve registered for the local turkey trot on Thanksgiving, which will make Thanksgiving quite fun, I think. I haven’t done a turkey trot before, and I am seriously contemplating buying one of those turkey hats to run in. Costumes are indeed allowed, and encouraged, but I’m not sure if I want to go that route yet. The turkey hat could, of course, become a regular thing for me. Who knows.

But I do want to start figuring out how to move from the distance I can go comfortably right now into longer distances – I know at a gut level what I have to do, and it’s right there in that word that starts with “c” and ends with “ably.” I’m somewhat relieved, though, to realize that the issue is less with how far I can go and more with how long the training takes every day/few days. I guess if I’m going to commit to a longer run (and duh, that’s sort of why I do this, other than, you know, that whole OMG family issues, better run thing) I need to look into some training plans.

I’ve read up on marathon training, and people always, without fail, say it’s the miles you put in leading up to it rather than the miles you run on the day of. They also say that they almost died doing it, sometimes, so there’s that, too. I would love to run a marathon, but at the moment, I can’t imagine running a 10k, or a half. But that’s my goal: ultimately a marathon, with all the steps in between. So let’s look at some of the training options for my next new experience – a 10k (I figure a 10k is a good one to train for next: it’s double what I’ve done in the past, and it’s mathematically neat and will make sense in the structuring and addition of the things on my running necklace, the magnets on the back of my car…you know, the important things).

So who’s this Hal Higdon dude?

His 10k training plan looks easy (easy in the sense that I’ve sort of upped my miles without a whole lot of fan fare to about 3 miles per run, but the runs (because of time/scheduling issues) are not regular.

Obviously this is going to have to change. Although in further digging, I find this: “In describing the amount of time it takes to run different distances in this program, I assume everybody trains at an average of 10:00 per mile.”

Please hold while I appropriately respond to this seemingly offhand comment.

image

I’m a little embarrassed to say how much time I would have to cut off my running pace in order to meet that offhand time frame. Let’s just say it’s…a metric shit ton, relatively speaking.

So Higdon is clearly A Dude of Some Importance in the field of running. He’s written a many books (not as prolific as Stephen King, but seeing as how King’s oeuvre covers all manner of things that may or not exist, and Higdon is limited to…well, essentially a form of movement, we will let that one slide). He’s also obviously run a shit ton of miles, and in scads of marathons. I’m thinking that if he put those magnets on his car, it wouldn’t run due to the magnetic interference with the fuses and other mechanical stuff in the engine.

So just from a really simple google search I’ve already got a workable training schedule. The problem seems to manifest when I start to think about the time frame in which I would actually execute said training.

So the next one in my google search (after quite a few mentions of Sai Higdon – oh dear, I’m getting my author references muddled) is Runners World. That one costs money – TWO DOLLARS AND NINETY NINE CENTS to be exact, EVERY MONTH, so it’s getting kicked to the curb immediately.

Funny that, huh? I’ll entertain the thought of $140 shoes (well, honestly, more than entertain), I will pay $25 to enter a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, but suggest a training plan that asks me to pony up only a bit more than the Turkey Trot entry fee over the course of a year and my immediate response is to click away so fast you’d think midget porn had appeared on my screen. Moving on.

Next on my list to think about: the cool folks at Cool Running who gave us the Couch to 5K concept. If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I would be running today, to be honest, because I never thought I could run any substantial distance, and lo and behold after struggling through all those 60 second bits of running interspersed with walking, suddenly it’s 3 miles and I’m surprised I’m done. So what sayeth the Cool Runners?

Hmmm. First off, I’m seeing language I don’t quite know what to do with. 800m runs? Fartleks? Various paces? 4M? 5M? The education curve is too high. I’m still trying to figure out how to manage fitting all this running into a schedule that’s admittedly pretty open, when compared with that of the standard 9-5 job (which is no longer standard, is no longer 9-5, and for many is no longer the only job they have – FEEL THE BERN).

Hal’s looking a lot better just from the standpoint of ease in understanding. I’m not a novice when it comes to running, or training plans (I do know what a fartlek is, for one thing) but I figure that if it’s going to be hard going to do the actual training itself, I don’t need to struggle to translate the training plan. So Hal it is.

Another question: how do I go about upping Straxi’s miles? I guess the same way? She can hardly cross train, really, at least not with me. Although she will be doing a lot that I’m not (like a lot of jumping, sprinting, wrestling, etc.) so I guess her cross training is just of a different nature than mine, but it’s still there.

Well. So now THAT’S sorted. Oh wait…when the hell am I actually going to do this thing? Let’s think about that.

So Monday is fine: I have access to the gym, I’m off work, not a deal. Tuesdays are ok too, in that I’m home by 4ish. Wednesday is a bit of a bother, since I go in around lunch and don’t get home until 10. So ostensibly I could train before I left for the day. That makes for a very long day. Thursday is the same as Tuesday, and Friday is one class only, so…why am I wrestling with this again?

The Psychotic Potato and I Run from Zombies…

The Psychotic Potato and I Run from Zombies…

I had a wonderful run with Straxi today. She is the only running partner I really want, to be honest, even if she does chase squirrels and have to poop at awkward times during the run. I can’t say that I don’t have those tendencies at times myself. We ran on the greenway, for 3.5 miles, and I could say it was a short run, but…ahem…it wasn’t. I am still working on beefing up my mileage, and I am trying very hard to get those runs in on a regular, consistent basis. I know that consistency is key to developing stamina, and I can’t really work on speed until I get the stamina in place. I have come such a long way since I returned to running – Couch to 5K was a blessing to me and allowed me to build my stamina up from 30 seconds to actually a substantial amount of time (I now can run an hour or so without stopping, although as I said before, with Straxi, there are usually at least one or two stops along the way, but not lengthy ones. She is fairly prompt with her business – another reason she is a stellar running partner).

I use the Zombies, Run! app and I used their C25k app when I started – again – to try to get some stamina going. I was one of the backers when the game first came out, and I got the early version that is no longer supported (but have switched now, obviously, to the current version). I love this app, and when I restarted, I was able to restart the story but keep all the goodies I had picked up for Abel Township along the way when I previously ran the story line, so my Abel Township is pretty rockin’, given how early in the story I am.

When I ran through the storyline the first time, it was early on, and they only had the one season out. (They are up to four now, I think.) I have largely forgotten how the story goes, but I remembered that there was one mission where you have to listen to a squalling kid for a large amount of it (I sure hope they don’t do a repeat of THAT trope, let me tell you – while I have had my own kids and brought them up just fine, I am no longer a fan of the small children. I think I qualify as a grouchy old lady at this point, or at least grouchy pre-old lady).

So that part of the story (rescue the squalling baby from hordes of zombies) I was not too keen on, and I worked to sort of ignore the chatter on Abel Radio, tbh, as I ran, but this part of the story line involving Dr. Meyers listening to what is essentially a last will & testament of her lover/SO was disturbingly moving for me. Dr. Meyers’ sobbing as her girlfriend, Paula, talks about how the outbreak occurred, and who Patient Zero was (she thinks) is some stellar voice acting, as is that of Paula when she tells Dr. Meyers that she really thinks she will never speak to her again. I don’t remember running to this before, honestly, but I remember the story line – it was sad, and probably spoke to the part of me that missed my own recently missing SO, but a lot of that part of my life is sort of MIA, actually.

When I ran today and listened to it, I thought about how it probably affected me the first time I heard it – I knew what was coming soon after I heard the initial covering fire, and the siren meaning that the gate was opening for me (yes, I am Runner Five, indeed I am, and don’t you think that anyone else is, not for one second). I love that Dr. Meyers is a gay woman, and that they make exactly zero reference to that fact (I was highly, highly annoyed at how often Stephen Moffat referenced the fact that Jenny and Madame Vastra were MARRIED, they are A COUPLE omg more is made over the fact that they are a couple than is that one is a lizard person while the other is a Victorian era maid – it became somewhat similar to watching the show with a twelve year old boy, tbh).

So I have a soap opera, of sorts, to listen to as I run, and I love it. I can’t wait to get into more of the story that I’m not familiar with, but it’s been so long that I need a refresher, so I can’t skip ahead. I love listening to the state of the world after the zombie apocolypse, and given that it’s nearly time for The Walking Dead to start back up, as well as it’s almost Halloween, this is a great tool to keep me running.

Difficult Runs

Difficult Runs

Anybody who has run, has tried to run, or has thought about running has some experience with Those Runs. You know the ones…you start and suddenly your feet weigh 20 pounds more than normal. Or nothing seems to move right. Or that internal voice just won’t shut up:  “Why are you putting yourself through this? You could just walk and do as well, since you are so slow.” Those runs are the ones that, when we are done, we are proudest of, even if they felt horrible and nothing seemed to work right.tumblr_nqez9lYN431t5l2xjo1_500

I think writing is the same sort of thing, honestly. I teach writing for a living, to young people who need to immediately be disabused of the notion that all good writing is effortless, flows from the pen like sparkling water, and needs no revision once the writing pen hath moved across the page. This is the biggest myth that they struggle with, and I can understand where it comes from:  we teach students that there is a formula for writing well (the five paragraph essay), and so it stands to reason that if there is a set group of steps associated with a task, we would expect that if we move through them correctly, we will have a successful outcome.

We think similarly about running:  how hard can it be? You put one foot in front of the other, rapidly. Done. You have run.

Not all writing turns out to be great writing, and not all runs turn out to be great runs. But the runs and the writing that we do, when we don’t want to, are the ones that make the following ones better and better.

First Steps

First Steps

“So I started running when I was young.” How silly does that sound as an opening? Of course I started running when I was young. We all did. Running didn’t become a joy again for me for a long time, though, as it was when I was young. With youth, running was thoughtless, weightless, effortless. Even painless.

As a (light) child, running was just a way to get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. As a typical (white/privileged) preteen girl, I went from running-for-efficiency to running-as-identity…and that identity was “horse.” After a (blessedly short and fairly unserious) time period of horse imitation and emulation (begun by a classmate, I must state in my own defense), I came to see running as a sport and as more than a means to an end.

My father was a runner, and as the constant “must do whatever it takes to gain approval” kid, I embraced running as a sport, too. I accompanied Dad on his runs, frequently on my bicycle, as he ran a lot farther and faster than I could manage at that point, and we went up and down the new greenways sprouting up around our home.

I stayed up all night (or at least very late into the night, that is) reading James Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running wondering even then as I started how in the world someone could write a whole book about running. Wasn’t it simple? Put one foot in front of the other, quickly, and pretty much figure it out as you go. The book was apparently pretty gripping, because I was engrossed from the start.

I remember being encouraged by my father to run, and to stretch, and even when I went out for an early morning, pre-dawn run, he met me after my return to ask, “how was it?” My shoes were the same brand as his, and my entries into races (nearly always in the “fun run” category, rather than the longer 5k or 10k as my dad did) were the ones he entered. Treadmills weren’t on my radar at the time, although they surely existed then.

I daydreamed about running – on long car trips, I would look out the window and imagine myself running through the woods alongside the car, and now when I sit on the front porch, or browse Pinterest, or Runnit, or any of the other running blogs I love, I still daydream, and see myself running.

So my beginning as a runner was pretty tame, pretty normal, pretty much boring and standard. How did I return to running, now that I’m nearly retirement age?