Why Am I Running?

Hey! It’s been three years since my last post. Let’s get on with it.

I went to the doctor in 2018 for a physical and didn’t have a health scare. My bad cholesterol was on the high side. I was overweight. I weighed around 260 pounds, and being around six feet tall, that’s not a good weight to be at. I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t complacent, either.

I decided I needed to lose weight. I started dieting, tracking the food I ate. No lie, I dropped ten pounds the first week, mostly because I have stuffed garbage into my face hole for my entire life, and actually refrained from doing that. No more sugary pop, no more icing-covered brownies. I would get a brownie pretty much 5 days a week. That’s not healthy!

Anyways, after dieting for a bit I decided I should start exercising. While going through a divorce 8 years ago, I started my first extended regimen of exercise, but I mostly did the elliptical because I thought running was 1. Crazy and 2. Hard on my knees. Oh, I was also really sad. True story!

I divorced, started dating, met a nice person, got remarried, had a kid. My exercise regimen slowly sputtered out, as things do when life gets in the way.

Considering what kind of exercise would be relevant to my current state, I knew my wife ShesAllWrite (link forthcoming to her blog!) had always liked running, so I guess I sort of gravitated toward that. I started out running on a treadmill and did a “Couch to 5K” program on my phone. It started out pretty easy, then I was horrified in the middle of the program when I had to run EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED MINUTES. What the hell?!

I kept on with it and eventually was running for a solid 30 minutes, keeping my pace around a 10 minute mile. I get confused, how are we supposed to talk about this? I was running a 10 minute mile, or running 6 mph? I guess the # minute mile is more common. I digressed!

I ran the Rock ‘n Roll 5k in Chicago last July, ran the Bucktown 5k, ran the Day of the Dead 5k in Pilsen. The *first* time I ran outside was right before the Rock ‘n Roll 5k. It was harder than the treadmill, and my speed suffered and my body complained, but not too much. Despite still trying to get used to outdoor running, it was nice running with other people! People cheered! They had fruit and energy bars afterwards!

I did a total of 3 races before it got unpleasantly cold out. When winter hit my dieting slid a bit, as did my running. Oh, I forgot to mention, I lost like 60 pounds with all that dieting and running! Holy shit! And, I gained 15-20 pounds back over the winter. I guess this kind of thing happens.

With the return of warmer weather, I’m back running again. I’m doing less treadmill running and more jogging outside. Initially, to get back into the swing of things, I re-did the Couch to 5K program, but increased my pace by 0.5 mph (so I was running a 9:34 min mile or so?).

I’m planning on signing up for the Chicago Bears 5k that’s happening later this month. I’ve already done two races thus far in 2019, and am beating my times from 2018, getting around a 9 minute mile. I have no idea if I am going to get faster, or am going to basically plateau at that pace.

ShesAllWrite said there are speed training programs I could try out to goose my speed, but I’m kind of lazy about that at this point. I could also choose to train for longer distances, but I think 26.2 miles is an arbitrarily stupid long distance to run. I’ll take my arbitrary distances a little shorter, thank you very much.

So, why do I run? Oh, that’s not the question. Why am I running? If I ask, “Why do I run?” it seems to give it some kind of gravitas I don’t know is warranted. Am I a runner? It doesn’t feel like it. I feel like I have to be inducted or something. Why am I running? Well, it feels kind of cool that I can get from Point A to Point B on my own steam in a relatively short amount of time.

I like running in those races. You get a t-shirt! Holy crap, that actually is part of it! You get a t-shirt! Every race! A t-shirt!

Another thing that appeals to me is I feel like running was something I used to think I could never do (though it’s not as though I was wistfully dreaming about it or anything) but hey, I can do it after all.

For whatever potentially dumb reason, I don’t consider myself a runner, but I am running. How long am I going to run for? Is my 48 year old body going to give out in the near future? Is my knee going to explode, or will my thighs be irreparably chafed, or will I suffer some other such calamity? Am I going to just get bored and lazy?

I don’t know. Maybe I won’t run forever, but I like it now.