Monday, April 9, 2012

Learning to Love Running: Books along the way!

I know runners. Only a few of them, as they are a fairly rare breed. All but two of these runners look as fit as most of the early morning runners I see out when I drive to work. I've often envied them for their sense of priority, level of fitness, and commitment. But I've only once before attempted to join their ranks.

The first time was a somewhat haphazard attempt that involved a new pair of shoes and some horse trails. I don't think I did more that three runs, and the dream faded.

I recently posted this on a running web-site in response to someone who was just getting back into running. He was looking for encouragement as he was starting over:

"I'm just starting out... or actually five weeks in. I'm moving out of "sedentary confinement."

I was very active in my teens and twenties, and played racquetball well into my 40's. Now "playmates" are harder to find, so I'm turning to running. I'm 58.

My first race (5K) is in two weeks. My son runs, and so does one daughter. They've been encouraging me some, but mostly it's  been books that have helped me: The Quotable Runner, Running for Mortals, The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Running, Wooden: A lifetime of Observations on and off the Court, and now I'm starting The Accidental Athlete.

I'm talking it slow and trying to avoid injury on the way to improved fitness. I'm just barely at 12 minute miles over a 5k distance: run 3, walk 2.

In the past I've only exercised as a by-product of having fun: playing sports. Now, I'm attempting to fall in love with running and a life of training. My goal: Run 1/2 hour three times a week, with off days of strength, flexibility, and balance work. Plus a few "spa" days thrown in as needed.

Long post. Hope it's helpful."

I'm re-posting my comments here because it contains clues as to where I've found some of the information and motivation that has helped me persist on my journey of improved fitness.

My nephew John stopped by with his wife and new baby yesterday (Easter) to say, "Hi." He mentioned that my FaceBook posts on running have got him thinking of taking it up again. I think a history of shin splints which hobbled him some time back. I was pleased the my postings have served to motivate. That's one of the main reasons I write.

"Motivation for change is always difficult. Staying motivated, almost impossible."

That has been my thinking for a number of years, maybe even decades, but for the last few years, I'm trying to reprogram myself into thinking more along these lines:

"I choose to be in charge of my habits. I let it be easy."

"I choose to move forward towards my goals at an easy, sustainable pace."

"I choose to achieve my goals, with the surprising help of God and others."

And, "I choose to let my future unfold at its own pace. Opportunities find me."

Positive change is exhilarating, affirming, and empowering. It's also fun. I believe that much of what limits us is our own unchallenged thinking about the difficulty level of positive change. If we can escape the flip-the-switch-into-a-new-life mentality and instead adopt a little-by-little-sustainable-pace mentality, then I think we'll enjoy life more as a Process-Of-On-Going-Improvement. A POOGI, as Eli Goldratt calls it.

I used to be more fit because I had more fun and played more. I'm rediscovering the joy of movement and athleticism. I'm moving toward adopting a new and improved life-style of fitness. I'm letting it be easy. I'm enjoying the journey. And I'm listening to the helpers who are cheering me on, including those who write books.

One of my runner friends used to say, "By the yard it's hard, but by the inch it's a cinch." Pace. Outlook. Improvement. Let it be easy.