As Richard Dawson announced during the opening segment of The Running Man game show, ”It’s time to start…RUNNING!” Of course, with that cry, Dawson was sending his contestants off to battle death at every mileage checkpoint against murderous villains with their low tech, yet deadly weapons, so the comparison to my running in the occasional local 5K is not exactly apropos; however, it is time to start running. It’s May on the calendar, and the (early) July of my life.
Last Saturday, I ran my first 5K of the 2011 charity season, the prestigious Oak Hill Prowlin’ and Growlin’ 5K. My finish time is not what I would have liked, and I placed 52nd in a field of approximately 350 runners. My consolation prize was that only one gentleman that was older than me finished better. Some 60 year old guy that they flew in from North Potomac, MD for the race beat me. He probably had a sponsor’s exemption, and skipped the after-race PED testing tent. It’s no matter. I do it for my health and in the spirit of friendly competition, not to crush old men, women and children on the asphalt course of broken dreams. Watching the losers, heaving and wheezing across the finish line after I have already finished is just a side benefit, not the main motivating factor.
Over the years, I’ve come to find out that running a 5K isn’t so bad, once I realized that a 5K does not mean 5,000 – the ‘K’ stands for kilometers, which is much more manageable for a race. I started signing up for these after the 2001 marathon, when I realized that running for 26.2 miles, while an admirable accomplishment, is plain dumb. It’s an enhanced interrogation technique, no question about it. For me, the marathon was a one-time parlor trick, something that I trained to do one time – never again. The experience did awaken a joy of running within me, however, and for that, I gladly endure the foot issues and the chafing.
You should run. You should begin by signing up for one of your local 5K events this summer. If you plan to participate in one of these fun runs, however, you’ll have to fully immerse yourself in what I like to call the 5Ks:
Knowledge – Read up on proper training regimens for the distance.
Knees – Use short, low strides to lessen the pounding on your fragile, aging knees.
Kommitment – Put your goal setting skills to good use, and stick with your plan to run the scheduled distance regularly, rain or shine.
Khallenge – Don’t quit, and run through discomfort (but not pain – know the difference).
Konfidence – Know that you can do it. I remember people lining the marathon route 10 years ago shouting inspirational messages, such as “Oprah did this – so can you!” At the time, I wanted to stop running and throw the motivational speakers off the overpass, but I couldn’t stop at the time. Whenever you think the distance is too far or you feel too tired, remember – Oprah did it. I was beaten in the marathon by a guy wearing a Kermit the Frog costume. If he could finish, so could I, and so can you.
We all find our own motivation. Personally, I keep running for a number of reasons:
· Clean my lungs
· Ascetic exercise to purge all toxins from years of recreation
· Time to listen to deep tracks on my iPod
· Clear my head
· To draft my next blog post
· To get out of the house alone for a few minutes
· To steal landscaping ideas from around the neighborhood
· To stay young
· To stay thin
· To school those 20-something punks I play hockey against
· To model healthy habits for my kids
· To make that first beer taste even better
· So I can eat mostly whatever I want
· For Bucko, because he can’t
Maybe, like Arnold in the classic The Running Man movie, I am battling death at every mileage checkpoint. I may not be up against Buzzsaw, Dynamo, and Fireball, but that 60 year old runner from North Potomac seems just as intimidating at mile point 2.
“It’s time to start…RUNNING!”