As a kid, I remember how important is was to pick out just the right pair of shoes. It would be that pair you would wear for the entire school year and you wanted them to be “Cool” and you wanted them to be “Fast”. Wearing those shoes the first day of a new school year came with a right of passage, to see who had become the fastest over summer break. We would dart around the playground, jet-powered shoes fully engaged, to prove we had gained some sort of superpowers over the past three months, that we were the fastest, that we were the best.
Funny how after fourty-plus years, that desire to wear “Cool” shoes that make me run “Faster” is still alive and well. Entering my fourth season of running, I’ve purchased and worn quite a few pairs of shoes and recently decided it was time to try a new brand and style. These shoes were lighter, cooler and felt great while running up and down the little rubber street in the running shoe store. As I left with my new shoes in hand, I was excited, I mean really excited to try them out and discover just what Superpowers my new shoes would give me.
Shortly I was suited up, it was time to give my “magic shoes” their inaugural run. I could tell right away, things felt different. Different from the running store and different from the shoes I had been wearing for the past few seasons. Right around the one mile mark It happened, what seemed to be the feeling of twisting an ankle. I must have run over an acorn or something because my new shoes couldn’t be at fault, I was sure of that? I walked it off for about a half mile and finished the run at a slower than normal pace.
A few days later I was out for another short run, this time around the neighborhood and just a quarter mile down the road, that same shooting pain around my ankle. Something was up. Had I really sprained an ankle or was this new pain being introduced by my new running shoes? I decided to switch to my old shoes for the next few weeks and then decide what to do. After speaking with a few running friends, I discovered that the new brand of shoe I had recently purchase was known for being lighter but also provided less support and that the twisting of the ankle feeling was likely the result of less support in my shoe. Granted, there were runners seeking such a shoe but I was still learning the art of this sport and a shoe with more stability was probably a smarter choice in this season of my running adventure.
I wound up returning the shoes and going with the latest version of the shoe model I had been running in for a while. I chocked this up as a lesson learned when it comes to purchasing running shoes. My feet are one of my most valuable assets as a runner, taking the best care of them I can is a smart thing to do. Getting advice in selecting the right shoe for me as I started to run, got me into the right shoe to begin with. Continuing to ask for advice by seasoned runners in staying with the right shoe had kept me running. When I ventured into the world of Superheroes and “Cooler”, “Faster” shoes on my own guidance, it led me away from smart running to experimental running and almost led to injury.
My advice to fellow runners, be sure to get sound advice from experienced runners who can guide you on what shoe is right for your feet and running maturity. Let go of the need to wear the coolest looking of newest shoe unless you can afford potential injury.
Run well, take care of those feet and listen to your body.
“What should we do for dinner” were the words that started the whole thing. After a long workweek, Friday was finally here and it just seemed fitting to go out for a nice meal. My daughter wanted Mexican food, my wife craved Italian but I was the driver and after changing our minds a half dozen times I decided to take my girls for the treat of a life time, the Chinese Super Buffet in neighboring Frisco, TX. I had eaten at this place a number of years ago and remembered the food was pretty good. They had all the classics, Orange Chicken, Hot and Sour soup, fried rice and other yummy goodness.
You know, the thing about a buffet is you’re going to pay an arm and a leg to eat but you eat to your hearts content. This was exactly what was going through my mind as my stomach grumbled on the drive over to the Super Buffet.
We were shown our seat and pointed in the direction of heat lamps and mountains of tasty food. Minutes later my daughter returned with a plate full of California Rolls, extra points noted, this buffet had a sushi bar. My wife had an assortment of tasty goodness and my selection, well I think this is where I started to reconsider if this was such a good idea after all. I initially went right to a huge mound of pot stickers and spareribs but then I thought, well Greg, you might start with a simple salad. I diverted my course to a serving area containing all things salad bar. The few of us circling this area all seemed to have a similar look on our face. My mind was thinking, hey have a little salad before you embark upon the Ho Chi Minh trail of Asian cuisine. As I ate my salad, I was thinking ok, let’s get this over so you can get on with the good stuff. Two minutes later I had eaten the salad and was heading back towards the heat lamps and Asian delights.
Like a hawk, spotting its pray from afar, I knew I had those tasty fried wontons on my radar along with spare ribs, chicken and some sort of spicy beef thing, it all looked good and I was anticipating trying it all. Finishing off that plate, I was just starting to get into the rhythm of this feast and a number of more plates quickly followed. Finally I was done, licking the spoon as to not waste one morsel of the ice cream, it was finished.
My God, I am really full I told my wife Cindy. I think we had all stuffed ourselves, making sure that we each got our $12.95 worth of food out of this place. As we shuffled back to the car, I started to consider when the last time I had been so full, when had I last pigged out like this? I couldn’t exactly remember but I knew it had been quite a long time ago, well before I had started Weight Watchers a few years back. Oh my gosh, had I fallen off the food wagon so to speak. It had dawned on me that I had learned to really cut my eating portions down as a part of what I had learned in my weight loss program. How easily I allowed the “Old Man” to come out for a visit to the local Chinese Buffet and eat to his heart content.
The next morning came early as I started to get suited up for my 7am running program at the local Luke’s Locker. The scale had said it all, just up over three pounds in a single week, no help from the Chinese feast the night before. I had let my guard down and now I had to pay the piper in the hill work I was about to participate in with my running group.
The years of hard work and transition had been lost for a fleeting moment and honestly not worth obsessing over with the exception to reflect how easily it can be to let ones guard down and revert to habits that don’t add much value to life. It had taken decades to get to the place I had arrived a number of years ago until I came to the realization that I needed to get things under control. Life is full of bumps in the road; they lead us back to places better left in the past. The “Old Man” (or Woman if that is your case) at times can blind us too much hard work and discipline it took to better ourselves.
So take a second look out the peephole when that knock comes to the door and tries to lead you back to a place you once had been. Have family and friends that you genuinely trust help you move in the right direction and encourage you when temptation comes knocking. When you stumble, get up and continue down the narrow road to a better life for yourself and those you love.
As a kid, our family would often go to Hollywood Park in Inglewood California to spend the day at the horseraces. You might think this would be a pretty boring place for a kid to spend a full day but actually it was very exciting. Of course there were the horseraces themselves, lasting just minutes each, providing a rhythm to the day, but a day at the races was so much more. There was the excitement of choosing a horse you though might win. There was the fun of having family with us, tuning the event into more of a picnic than a sporting event. Lastly, there was the adventure of the place, people of all types, excitement and disappointment in the air. For a kid, a day at the races was really something to be remembered.
Today I participated in a race called the Trinity River Levee Run (http://www.runthetrinity.com) in the heart of Dallas. It too was “A Day at the Races” and much like I discovered as a kid, it was so much more than just the race itself that made it memorable. One of the things I have come to love about the sport of running are those things that surround an event such as todays race. Months of planning go into a day like today, picking out the race course, getting details worked out with the city, bringing in vendors, etc. Todays race had those things as well as many other unique aspects that could easily have gone unnoticed yet they added much to the enjoyment and memory of the event. Here are a few things I encountered today and hope you will recognize in your future running events.
- Great Music – Nothing gets people more pumped up than great music. The event organizers for the Trinity River Levee Run had music going from the moment we showed up until the time we headed home. There was an incredible singing of the National Anthem a well as a live band, which played during and after the run was over. I’m grateful the coordinators knew the power of music and its ability to add richness to a day like today.
- Crowd Participation – There’s no denying it, most “Running-Types” are a pretty outgoing bunch. Forty-Five minutes before race time they had a woman warming the group up with stretches and other activities. It was a sea of bending knees, reaching to the sky and waving arms and it was really fun. You have to love the running crowd; they could care less what someone else thinks as they bounce around to an early morning aerobic workout.
- Cheering Section – I must admit, I love an enthusiastic cheering section and the folks that came out to cheer us on at todays race did an A+ job. This had to be one of the most organized cheering groups I have encountered at any race to date. They were from all types of organization, each with color coordinated shirts and signs encouraging us along the way. You’ve got to give a big Thank You to groups like this that come out to cheer on and encourage complete strangers.
As someone new to the sport of running, I really enjoy the opportunity to encourage others. In the few years I’ve run, I’ve completed a number of 5k’s, a couple longer races and one half-marathon. It took a lot of work to get this far but it took even more encouragement from others to help me stick with it. I’m currently participating in a program sponsored by Luke’s Locker in Allen, Texas called The Beat Goes On (https://www.lukeslocker.com/BGO2014) which is helping me to become better as a runner. My coaches encourage me and provide invaluable instruction to improve my running.
As I finished my run today, hitting a new personal record for my 5k time, I got to head back to the finish line area and cheer on those also heading to the finish line. Friends from my running group gathered there as well, each just completing the race yet excited to cheer on other runners as they finished their races. For over an hour we watch as all sorts of people crest the Trinity Bridge and complet the last quarter of a mile towards the finish line. How enjoyable to cheer those folks on, some running with friends, some pushing strollers, many giving it everything they had to finish the race well. We clapped and cheered, “Great job”, “Keep it going”, “You’re doing great” as they ran by. Remembering how much it had meant to me to have that cheering section root me on, making eye contact, speaking words of encouragement to finish the race well. I loved this part of todays race, it might have been better than running itself because investing in others never returns void, it more often multiplies into something greater than we could ever anticipate.
A day at the races can be so much more than something focused entirely on us. It can be a time to be grateful for the hard work of others and an opportunity to invest in those around us.
Over the past thirty some odd years I have joined a number of gyms with the intent of getting healthy and staying fit. The results have become so predictable, it’s kind of funny that I would expect things to be different each time.
It goes something like this:
- Find a hip and popular gym.
- Hear the sales pitch, all the while thinking, can we just get on with it.
- Sign a bunch of paperwork, blah, blah, blah.
- Pay all sorts of make-believe fees.
- Buy some fancy schmancy workout clothes.
- Show up back at the gym the same day, ready to conquer the world.
- Try out every piece of equipment, racket ball court, pool and steam room.
- Shower and pack up stinky clothes.
- Drive home feeling like the Six Million Dollar Man.
- Pass out by 8:30 due to total exhaustion.
- Wake up next morning barley able to walk
- Go to gym a half dozen more times over the year, mostly out of guilt for the $40 per month automatically withdrawn from my bank account.
- Try everything to cancel this ridiculous gym membership.
- Swear I will never do that again.
- Do it all over again a few years later.
What is it that always draws me back to repeat this same cycle of events? Well if I am like you it’s the reality that I need to be doing something to keep my body healthy. I see all those fit people on early morning TV working out and getting fit and so I conclude this must be the way it’s done.
Well friends, I have something to share with you that only took thirty years to figure out, “do the thing you love”. I’ll say it again, “Do that thing you love to do”. I have been running for just about three years now and that’s a lot longer than any gym membership I ever kept. I’ve started to realize that while we all know we need to exercise, stay fit and be healthy, we often try to fulfill that reality in a way not natural to the way we’re wired. Obviously some folks love to go to the gym and have been doing so since Jack LaLanne was wearing a onesie but for many of us, the gym feels boring and repetitive. I’ve discovered that my active life needs to have variety to keep it exciting and interesting.
So what do you love to do? Maybe like me, you get bored running the same routes all the time and like some change of scenery? Maybe you enjoy a little rain now and then to mix things up and keep it interesting. Look back in your life to the things you enjoy the most and see how those can be incorporated into your running life. Maybe you like to get on the trail or take photographs of nature, could those things become a unique part of your running adventure? Break the stereotype rules of what you perceive running to be and make it unique to the way you’re wired. You might be surprised to find a whole group of folks just waiting to do something a little different than the norm.
See you soon on the road to adventure,
Even thought I often feel ready to run, I have learned to pay attention to my running schedule and not to over due things. This lesson came after more than once instance when I decided I felt ready to run so why not do just that. This lead to a number of injuries that were avoidable. As with all things in life, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. A smart athlete considers not only do they feel like doing something but is the exercise investing in the long term.