Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Emerging Runner origin story

Perfect weather for running in circles today
I returned to running just about eleven years ago, mostly out of impatience. I didn't make any great decision to run. I just started doing it during the walks I'd began taking to lose weight and reduce cholesterol. After a month or so, I grew restless walking and began to fold in short runs along my route. What started off as a sprint to the next corner quickly turned into quarter mile runs. One day I just stopped walking entirely.

Prior to 2009, I had a few brief episodes of running, but I never made it stick. When I lived in Manhattan in the early '90s, I had a friend who encouraged me to run with her. I agreed and even went to Paragon in Union Square and bought a pair of yellow and blue Nike Cortez shoes. I'd dutifully rise, put on my running gear and go out for a few miles along Third Avenue, dodging people and stopping every block or so for lights.

I would occasionally trek up to Riverside Park to meet my running friend where I could run free of traffic, strollers and other obstructions. I put little thought into the way I ran and mostly went out full tilt every time. Part of that was due to my friend being faster than me and my fragile ego not allowing me to be left behind. I no longer have that issue, just ask any of the Runsketeers!

I continued to try and even entered my first race, the Manufacturer Hanover Corporate Challenge, in 1991. I have no memory of how I did, but ironically, it was probably the fastest 3.5 miles I ever ran. I have no records of my performance from those times and it was long before data tracking via GPS or foot pods, but I was 28 years younger. So probably.

Running hard without any conditioning plan or progress strategy led to a lack of motivation. I was tired of coming back from every run feeling terrible. When my running friend went on a two week business trip to LA, I had no daily accountability and started sleeping in. And that was that.

So in late summer 2008, as I walked up Underhill Avenue, I decided to run the 100 yards or so to Cheshire and that's how it started. Or restarted. As time went on, these runs grew longer and more frequent. I thought about the circumstances that undermined my running in the '90s and committed to a different tactic:
  • Run only at a pace that provides an enjoyable experience. 
  • Have a route plan.
  • Keep to sustainable distances.
I knew that if I struggled every time I ran I'd grow tired of the whole thing. The trick was finding a balance between comfort and effort that I could advance as my conditioning improved. As most runners know, it's possible to make dramatic progress when you are just beginning. Discipline, structure and performance targets reinforce gains. By 2009, the internet provided tools like MapMyRun and the Nike+ system that gave runners a way to capture, record, visualize and analyze their workouts. I was hooked.

When I started Emerging Runner in November of 2008, I wondered if history would repeat itself and I'd find myself shutting it down after a couple of months. Somehow it stuck and, after 2,186 posts and counting, I'm still at it. I've had my ups and downs but I have never lost my love for the run. 

Sometimes I get tired of running my neighborhood (I am reasonably sure I have run down Lenore Street at least 2,500 times) so I'll go out on the Bethpage trail or (like today) take 13 laps around the track of a nearby high school. But I never get tired of putting on my running shoes and heading out the door.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! Some of this I hadn’t known. For instance that your first foray into running was encouraged by a friend whom you eventually ghosted. That’s terrific that this blog has been active for 11 years!! Keep it up! Someone must carry the torch. It’s only fitting it would be the one who started it all.

    On a different note, please read my last Instagram post. I’m still affected. And also slightly blame you for not forcing me to read the book sooner.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad to know that you had a brief moment of lucidity and followed my recommendation to read the book. Since I no longer have Instagram I had to figure out how to read you post another way (via Twitter re-post).

      For the record, I didn't ghost my friend, I ghosted running. She and I are still in touch, if occasionally commenting on her LinkedIn posts counts as being in touch.

      I really think the world is ready for SIOR redux. TPP redux as well. Follow my advice. You know I'm always right (see first paragraph).

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    2. Why did you delete your Instagram? Your posts were so inspiring and authentic?

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    3. You forgot to add nonexistent. I don't think I'm cut out for short form media. I also resented Instagram's constant suggestions of content and people to follow. Felt creepy. I do miss the frequent opportunities to express brilliant social criticism when commenting on your posts.

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