Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Man Runner

For the last six months, I have tried running to keep in shape. When I reached the big 4-0 earlier this year, I was forced to face some facts. Number one is, I am no longer an athlete. Oh I used to be one, around twenty five years ago. From ages 14 to 18 I could be found competing in year round sports. Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, track in the spring and baseball in the summer. In all of those seasons I loved to compete. But I hated practicing. More specifically, I hated running.

So why did I quit participating in these activities once I graduated? They're just too much work. Does that make me lazy? Of course it does. I just kept thinking, I'm an athlete. I can always start up again whenever I want to. All I would have to do is a few stretches and pick up right where I left off.

Well, at 40 years old, I found out that I am much stiffer than I remember from twenty years ago. My joints don't loosen up as quickly or as completely as before. I quickly realized that an athlete I am no more.

So back to the present and why I decided that now was the time start exercising. Lady Di had much to do with my motivation. She has been running, walking and exercising for the last few years. She also works out with an Ipod. That was the final incentive to get me off my butt and into my ten year old sneakers.

Ipods are just too cool. Twenty plus years ago I had tried running with a radio, but growing up in South Dakota you quickly learn that if you don't listen to country music, your radio choices are limited. I also tried the ultra cool Sony Walkman. Then I could choose my own music as long as I listened to every song in order and stopped halfway to flip the cassette. My Walkman was also always trying to pull my running shorts down when clipped to my waistband. The only other choice I had for running music back then was singing to myself in cadence with my stride. But who wants to run to a marching, wheezing, out of breath Bon Jovi song?

So Lady Di's Ipod was a new toy for me to tryout. Her Ipod has a list of 80's music and once I figured out how to work it, I took off running. It was amazing how pumped up I was just jamming to the first Gun's and Roses song. Half way through the song, however, my body started to complain that the novelty of running for fun had left. My lungs wheezed, my heart pounded and my legs screamed. But the music kept me going. I stopped multiple times to walk but was still able to make it back home. The whole run/walk round trip took 18 minutes. And my head was thumping from my overworked heart for 17 of those minutes.

Well since then, I have gotten my own Ipod because Lady Di was tired of sponging my perspiration from hers. My Ipod is loaded with Sinatra, Oingo Boingo and 80's songs. It was this Ipod that has kept me running. This type of running is so much different than the running I did as a teen. As a teen, I ran to exhaustion to get faster and stronger. Now I can enjoy nature and work muscles that don't get as much use during the day. Listening to music also allows me to pretend I'm in a music video. For some reason I think it would be cool to film Billie Joe Armstrong jogging the entire song of Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Or I can listen to St. Elmo's Fire and envision myself in an 80's movie, running to meet Lady Di at the bus station before she gets on and I lose her forever.

Anyway, whatever the reason is for running, I am starting to feel better. I am running longer and don't feel as terrible after a run. On the contrary, I am actually starting to feel better after a run and can notice myself feeling worse when I don't run. I have competed in two 5K races and am looking forward to this summer to see if I can lower my time. I will never get the body of the athlete I used to be, but in my mind, I still am an athlete. I wasn't able to pick up where I left off, but at least I am moving in the right direction. I became an athlete once. I can become one again.

Thank you Apple, Inc.


The Father of Five said...

I, on the other hand, have never been an athlete. I was heavy as a child, got very thin (scary thin) as a young adult, and since have returned to my earlier career as "husky".

I keep telling myself that I want to get in better shape than I am, but life seems to always get in the way.

But when you hear stories like that of "Captain Phil" of the Cornelia Marie from The Deadliest Catch - dead at 53 years old.. It scares the crap outta me...

I am looking forward to being a grandpa someday...

Keep up the good work, and good luck this summer!

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.