Thursday, April 22, 2010

Step one: Start running

Running is a means for humans to move quickly on foot. It is faster than walking and involves having both feet in the air at the same time, at least for a moment. Running was first discovered as effective when man chased down his first meal.

Running was practical especially when large, menacing beasts challenged man to a staring contest. Or when Cain charged after Abel. Eventually the Olympics were born and running became part of the athletic events. Coroebus, a cook from Elis, won the stade in 776 BC. This was the first record we have of a race in the Olympics. For all anyone knows maybe he just had too much cooking sherry and was running around in the buff for the fun of it. Without the wind resistance of clothes, Coroebus was pretty quick. Whatever happened, running somehow became contest worthy.

Runners came up with this list of techniques to practice. Techniques. For running. People practice running. With coaches and everything. For running.

As true as this simplistic approach to training for a marathon is, there is more to it than just running the day of a race. This episode of How I Met Your Mother goes on to show Marshal training for the marathon while Barney puts on a track suit the day of the race. Barney finishes quickly and then gets on the subway because it’s free to the marathon participants that day. Unfortunately for him, his legs no longer work and he can’t get off the train. He just rides around all day hitting on girls until he has to call Ted to rescue him.

Running is funny. Well, when you find no pleasure in it. But for many people, running is a wonderful thing. It gives them a sense of satisfaction. It releases endorphins which are a natural high. Running is a natural way to battle depression and it is even reported to combat the mental effects of aging.

Honestly, I have great respect for runners. Mostly because I can’t do it. My brother ran cross country in high school. I loved watching his races. The races were three miles long. Three mile races. Who does that? It was amazing to watch. His wife enjoys running too. She has ran several marathons just because she can. Recently she ran in Salt Lake City’s half marathon.

I took Trax with my family to support her and watch her cross the finish line. Part of the running route followed the Trax lines. We passed by so many runners. It was interesting to see the different shapes and sizes of people competing in the half marathon. I saw women with full faces of makeup and fully styled hair running. Hard to make fun of women like that because I would do it. And they were out there running. I run in place in my room. Not the same thing.

A woman wanted to bike in a marathon type race. She began practicing in her home on a stationary bike. She was extremely proud of herself for biking a few miles the first night. When she took a real bike ride she panted and struggled through one mile. This went on for a while – success on her stationary bike then struggling on a real bike. She never built up her endurance on the real road. But no worries. She was going to take the week off before the race to save her strength. All I have to say is good luck with that race, Barneyrella.

Back to the half marathon . . . we got to the finish line at the Gateway. Some runners would jog in red in the face, sweating, panting, ready to die. Suddenly they found some magical burst of energy. The sight of the finish line reminded them of whatever they were running for and they kicked it in for the last several yards. It was extremely inspiring.

Many runners would come through pumping their arms above their heads. The crowd went wild. Actually, there were cheers of some kind for every participant. The ones who looked ready to give up were given encouraging shouts from the onlookers. A few stopped running and started walking. The crowd went nuts. “Don’t give up! Come on! You’re almost there!” I think I only saw one or two walk in. Everyone else dug deep and pushed themselves to run across that finish line.

My sister in law finished with cheers from her family and nearby strangers. She had a big smile on her face and since we all forgot cameras no pictures were taken. The cell phone wouldn’t focus fast enough so there was one picture of nothing. Her euphoria was contagious. She had done her personal best. My favorite part was when she said her goal was to be to Liberty Park before being lapped by the full marathon runners. She was past Liberty Park and only two miles from finishing the half marathon before the first marathon runner passed. That guy was awesome. White guy, not some guy from Africa. He finished 26 miles in 2.5 hours! For real.

I may not run and I have no desire to, but I will always respect those who do. I am inspired by the runners who do it to prove something to the world or prove something to themselves. One girl had a T-shirt on that said, “I run for M.E.” Not sure what M.E. stands for if it doesn’t mean ‘me.’ Run for a charity, run for a living, run for family or friends, run for yourself. Just run. Meanwhile I will huff and puff in place while my cartoon trainer compliments my efforts.


  1. Hi Tristan,

    I'd demonstrate my blazing speed for you if I could only get beyond step one. That step trips me up every time!

    But seriously, I enjoy running and exercise. When in a routine, I feel much better about myself. But when I stop for an extended period, the thought of beginning is a real deterrent - even though I know that I'll feel better if I stick with it through the initial soreness.

    If we always just did what we know we should do, life would be much simpler, I think.

    I've written about my only experience with a real race. Although it took place several years ago, I do remember the excitement of the finish line and the gracious cheers of strangers who appreciated the effort. It was a nice feeling.

    Runners, I mean the real runners who do this sort of thing all of the time, are amazing. I'm in awe of their endurance. Like anyone who does anything well, they make it look so easy.

    Run, Forrest, run!


  2. Hi Ray,

    I remember your post about you running. Running is one of those things that I love to watch but I know I can't do to save my life. Running is awesome in the real sense of that word.

    My brother used to tell me that races were more mental than physical. Running alongside someone to either pass or be passed was where the race was really won.

    Like you, I enjoy exercise when I get past step one of just doing it. I've tried running and have decided everyone is different. So I don't mind rocking it with weight training combined with aerobic exercise at home.

    Run, Forrest, run! I forgot about that movie.



Now that I've shared my thoughts, what are your thoughts?