I used to run a lot. I also used to not run a lot. I have had a sporadic history with running, but, thanks to my mental health issues over the years, I have not maintained a consistent running practice. To add to the difficulties, I have had little fitness practice the past year or so.
Hence, today, I am a blobby 63-year-old with poor cardio but still relatively strong legs. And I still love running. So, as of today, with my second run in two days, and third in a week, I can say that I am back to being a runner.
And yes, I am going to call myself a runner because, goddammit, I love running and I intend to keep this going. Heck, I even checked Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” out of the library for inspiration (on both running and writing). I have the great advantage of having Mill Park just across the street, and Mill Park is a lovely little park away from SE 122nd with a nice quarter-mile-ish bark dust running loop.
Exactly what I need to get started again. Street/sidewalk running is always a difficulty, and never more so than when beginning to run. The pounding is ok once you’re in shape and peeling off miles with relative ease; the pounding, in fact, diminishes with strength and endurance as your gait becomes smoother and you are able to run more easily. As a noob, struggling for breath, trying to maintain form, and then feeling each step jolt up through your awkwardness; ugh.
Mill Park’s running loop isn’t very flat (and I mean side-to-side; it was not leveled-out by a team of engineers and surveyors), but it’s gentle and it’s a great length for me. Two laps and I’m good. With a bit of before-and-after stretching (not a lot; I don’t really need it; I will be using my foam roller off and on through the day), it’s about a half-hour’s commitment. Just right, I think, for the first month.
Come April, I should be able to do four-to-six laps and feel I have made it to the first level. Then I can think about getting back onto the streets (SE Mill, heading east from 122nd, is a great street for walking and running; quiet and not much traffic; a lot of distance between intersections, too). But for now, at least I have made this start. It’s like with a 5-minute meditation session: You try to keep your awareness on the breath, but it always wanders off because: brains and thoughts. So time after time, you return awareness to the breath. Starting over again and again and again because the only other choice is quitting.
I’m tired of quitting.