Sometimes you have to push yourself in order to get out of a rut.
Last March, two months before my 57th birthday, I realized I was in a rut as far as my physical conditioning was concerned.
Although I wasn’t completely out of shape, I wasn’t exactly in top shape.
As a newspaper editor, I was mostly sitting at a desk for eight hours a day.
I wasn’t a complete couch potato. I did have a gym club membership, but visits to the gym were sporadic. I tried to hit the gym three times a week, but was lucky to average once a week.
I needed a push; I needed a goal. So I entered a 10K run on Mother’s Day, which gave me about 10 weeks to get in running shape.
Unfortunately, my work schedule and commute at the time didn’t lend itself to signing up for a running club.
I had to train on my own.
A few summers ago, I had mapped out a 2K run, but hadn’t run it for nearly two years. If I was to complete a 10K run in two months, I had my work cut out for me. I started with my 2K run, which I surprisingly finished without stopping the first time. Before, it took me several runs to complete 2K without stopping. I credited the looming 10K run for that.
I am fortunate to live within walking distance of Confederation Park which has 200 metre distances marked on its paved path along the lakefront. The measured trail runs all the way to the lift bridge.
I hit the trail regularly and worked my way up to 5k and 10k distances.
Along the way, I learned a few valuable life lessons.
I learned that good running shoes are essential. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way after two months of running in 10-year-old cross trainers.
At this point you might be wondering what kind of idiot runs long distances in 10-year-old cross trainers.
The cheap kind, of course. My generation pre-dated the Air Jordan era - not just the shoe, but the person. I grew up wearing canvass sneakers when they were the only type of running shoe available. In Grade 8, Adidas introduced their first three-stripe running shoe for the hefty sum of $20. Since then, I have always considered $20 the threshold price for footwear. Did I mention that my wife buys most of my shoes?
So what made me finally open up my wallet for a pair of running shoes that cost more than $100 and closer to $200.
That would be lesson number two - pain.
I learned running through pain is also not a good idea. I learned this while running in my 10-year-old cross trainers on a 10K practice run.
I had completed about 7K when I felt a cramp in my lower left leg. Rather than stopping, I continued running for the final 3K. Big mistake. I wound up with a strained calf muscle, which put me on the shelf for three weeks. On the plus side, it convinced me to invest in some expensive running shoes.
I also learned the value of return routes. Again, I learned this the hard way. I ran my first 5K distance from the end of Confederation Park a new townhouse complex where the old Dynes Tavern used to be on the Beach Trip. I completed the run, but was exhausted at the end. I was also famished, since I started the run just before lunch. There I was, 5 kilometres from home without any money for a snack or any other way of getting back, except walking. I tried to run, but there was nothing left in the tank.
This provided me with another valuable lesson - always pack a snack, just in case.
I also learned some people can power walk faster than I run. Remember the tortoise and the hare fable? I am the tortoise — everyone else on the path is usually a hare — but that’s okay. Long ago, I learned that I am not running against others, but for myself.
Most importantly, I learned the thrill of accomplishing my goal of running in a 10K race. I continued to run over the summer - although a vacation and hot weather curtailed my training a bit.
Last Saturday, I completed another 10K run at Hamilton’s Bayfront Park.
Sometimes a push can point you in the right direction.
Hamilton Community News Managing Editor Rod Jerred can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HCN_editor.