I used to be a runner.
When I was 17 and my only concerns were passing Algebra, gathering up the nerve to talk to the pretty girls in my class, and debating the merits of Mötley Crüe versus Def Leppard, I used to effortlessly run three to five miles a day.
I wasn’t particularly good at it. Trying to get in shape for basketball was the reason I even thought about going out for the cross-country team. I’d never run a mile before in my life and then I just never stopped for eight years.
I didn’t make the basketball team which, in retrospect, was a good thing because I knew I wasn’t good enough. However, my identity was folded into being an athlete of some kind and if football, basketball, and baseball weren’t in the cards, maybe track could be.
Cross-country and track. Today it seems like a lifetime ago that I was in the prime of my athletic self. I look at pictures of me at that time and two things stick out… all the hair I had and how like a coiled spring my body was. I took it all for granted, of course.
If I could go back to my 18-year-old self and tell him one thing it would be to never stop running. Always run. Always stay in shape. Run for fun. Run for the hundreds of health-related pluses you get from running. Just run.
And then I got old.
Is 50 old? I have no idea. My father is in his 70s and I forget that all the time because he rarely acts his age. I hope I never act my age.
But I am 50 and with it all the aches and pains of 30 or so years of not running.
I ran for eight years. Four in high school and four in college. I never loved it. And then the ravages of time patiently took my self-identifying athlete persona and changed it into a self-identifying supporter of athletics. “If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter” goes the joke in Grease.
I’d really like to run again. Everyone around me says it’s a bad idea. Maybe it is. Could I actually use the Couch to 5K app and make it happen? I don’t know. I worry about hurting myself and injuring my already weak knees and ankles.
Still, the studies show running makes you live longer. If that doesn’t get you off the couch what will? A medical condition? A family history of heart disease? The desire to be there to walk your daughter down the aisle and see grandkids and enjoy life a bit more?
I’d love to hear stories of how Couch to 5K worked or didn’t work for you. Any other ideas? Am I going to hurt myself? Let me know.