Friday, June 1, 2012
By ERIC HAMILTON
I used to be a runner.
I used to run 17-minute 5Ks. I used to run the 800 meters in under 2 minutes. But that was 20 years ago, although in a lot of ways it doesn’t seem that way. I’m still in pretty good shape and play basketball twice a week without dying. But I can’t remember the last time I went out for a run or spent time on my treadmill.
It’s not that I don’t want to start running again. I really do. It’s a healthy habit, would help my high blood pressure and give me a way to stay in “game shape.” It’s just tough to find the time or if I do, it’s boring to run alone. But my real problem is my past.
See, I’m a very competitive person and I hate to lose. To me, second place is just the first loser. I’m not a sore loser; I just figure that if I’m going to do something, I may as well try to win. Many who know me recognize my personal motto: I play for fun, but it’s more fun if I win.
So, back to the treadmill. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to start running again. I’d like to get in shape enough to hit a few 5K races each year. Maybe even a half marathon. For someone who hasn’t consistently run in probably 10 years, those are solid goals.
But here’s what happens. I jump on the treadmill and start jogging. I’ll set the speed for about a 10-minute mile. The first mile feels pretty good and I’m starting to sweat. So, instead of continuing at that pace, I go faster. After a second mile at 9-minute pace, I’m sweating, heart rate is up and legs are doing OK.
At this point, I’m looking at the total time and my pace and shaking my head. You see, my brain starts to recall my old times from high school. That’s when my competitiveness kicks in. Somehow I can’t let logic set in that I should not be running the same times as I did 20 years ago.
I crank up the speed for my last mile. I’m now on 7-minute mile pace. It feels fast, but I keep going. I start telling myself I can finish. Finally, I hit 3 miles. As I step off the treadmill, my legs are rubbery and my shirt is soaked.
I’m ready for more. So, after a 6-month recovery period, I do it all over again. Yes, I’m a runner.
Seriously though, my goal for the rest of 2012 is to start running consistently three days a week. The key to my success is convincing myself to start out slow and build up to a faster pace. To make it more about recreation than competition.
Wish me luck – it won’t be easy. After all, I’m a runner.