Syracuse Online

Running For All

Set Aside Your Excuses

Published June 23, 2003 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

It has become a common occurrence. A friendly stranger approaches me at the store and strikes a conversation, to the utter embarrassment of my children: "I read your running column every Monday, although I do not run." Some readers ran in high school and hurt their backs and knees. Others never ran a mile in their lives. Today, I dedicate this column to all the non-runners, and invite you to join me on my journey of sweat and joy.

As a toddler, my pediatrician predicted that I may never walk. Genes and disease gave me legs too weak for my body. Miraculously, I progressed from slithering to crawling to hobbling. I walked in time for school, and started running thirty years later.

My formula to successful running and sticking with it past the first week lay in three simple secrets: a good pair of running shoes, slow progress and a partner.

I bought a new pair of running shoes before my first run. I visited a running store and talked to the resident runners. I invested in a good pair of running shoes that supported my feet. My new shoes prevented shin splints and knee pain, the most common causes of drop-out among new runners.

After every run, I revised the cost of my shoes per mile, determined to improve on my car's mileage rate. I committed to running at least two hundred miles in these shoes. I retired them after 500 miles, tripling the economy of my Chevy.

I reserved my mornings to myself. I planned to slowly increase my daily runs to an hour, but did not feel rushed or compelled to get there. I started running in late spring, gave myself all summer to build up to half-an-hour of running, and a whole year to build up to an hour.

I recognized that walking and running equally benefit the soul and the body. We burn the same number of calories to travel a mile, regardless how fast we get there. In my first month of running, I walked a lot more than I ran. I walked the long blocks and ran the shorter ones. Even at the peak of my fitness, I broke a marathon into thirteen two-mile runs with minute walks in between.

Last but not least, I teamed up with my neighbor and became partners on a journey. My partner walked when I could not run, rang my doorbell when I overslept, listened when I ranted, spoke when I faltered, and picked me when I stumbled.

So, set aside your pains and excuses. Buy a good pair of running shoes. Invest in your mind and body. Find a partner to sustain your motivation. Get your physician's blessing, and hit the road. There is room for all of us out there.

© 2003 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at