Running For All
Set Aside Your ExcusesPublished 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.
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 TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at email@example.com.