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Running History

dsc00193_clip.jpgIt is hard to find the will to run, when I am warmly buried in my bed. The slackened muscles, relaxed after a good night's sleep, do not look forward to blasting their way down Wilshire Boulevard. But, if the will can be found and I manage to strap on my running clothes, I am rewarded with a burst of happiness within the first couple of steps.

There had been several times in my life that I tried to get into the habit of running. While I was in grade school, my parents started jogging nearly everyday. (That culminated in the SportsMed 10k race in South Bend, and I can still remember watching my dad cross the finish line. I had run in the 5k race.) In college, I would sometimes run around campus or around the lakes, but it certainly didn't happen on a regular basis. (I'm not sure why I never made it into a habit... Perhaps it was the late nights, the demands of schoolwork and band, and the lack of social pressure. If nobody else is doing it, then maybe I don't have to do it either.)

It wasn't until the second year of grad school, that I really started running regularly. I lived alone, so it was easier to indulge in weird activities. Austin has many great running paths, including a 10-mile course around Town Lake, in the center of town. It became serious when I signed up to run the Austin Motorola Marathon, with my friend Karen Shopoff. We joined a training group that met every weekend by Town Lake, and that provided some structure to the effort. (The subtle interplay of rivalry, self-induced motivation, sexual tension, and group pressure is a wonderful thing to behold, if it is helping you become better.)

The Austin marathon is a story better told elsewhere. I finished it, and finished well. (Starting was a separate problem.)

Since moving to Los Angeles, my running has become a bit erratic. There were several intervals in which I ran very regularly, such as when I was training for the LA Marathon. There have been other times in which I would go weeks without slapping the pavement. My mileage can almost certainly be correlated with life-changes. (I.e. plot "week number" on the x-axis of a graph, with "miles ran" on the y. The graph probably looks like a square wave. Interpose events, such as dates, project milestones at work, moving, family events, etc, as vertical lines. I image that the vertical lines are fairly close to the edges of the square wave.)

I had originally conceived of this post as a description of the joys of running: The sweetness of the cool air as it is pulled into one's ragged lungs, the stretched tautness of legs muscles, the sweat of exertion covering one's face even in the cold air, the tired pleasure of much-needed shower afterwards. Perhaps that too is a story for another time.

But, as this post has been more about my running history, I shall conclude by asking myself: How shall my running go now? Should I set a goal (Chicago Marathon, perhaps), and work towards that? How can I build up the endurance and stamina that is needed? What kinds of motivations can I use to force myself to still get up and run, even in moments of weakness?



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