A friend of mine asked me last week why I decided to take up running. I never really thought about it before that, honestly – I just kind of did. I knew I needed to get into shape (my Dad warned me that when you hit 30 your metabolism pretty much throws itself into reverse…and like most things I’ve learned he was right) and while I play 20+ hours of volleyball a week that’s short-spurt cardio – it’s hard-and-fast for maybe twenty seconds for a point and then you stop. And that’s in doubles; when you’re in sixes it’s far less than that on average. I found that despite my extensive (obsessive?) volleyball playing I was still not shedding pounds, nor was I putting on the muscle that would explain that in a way I wanted it to or gaining stamina.
Plus I only get that for six months out of the year – I don’t play indoors for the same reason you don’t throw your cell phone at a brick wall: it’s possible it won’t break but it’s highly unlikely. I will launch my body horizontally to save a point when I play sand volleyball and I haven’t found an off switch for that when I move my game indoors, and rather than continue to search hopelessly I just don’t tempt fate any longer. So I needed to find something that would keep me in shape and let me improve my cardio and running seemed like the best choice. I didn’t need a gym membership to do it (but it would help) and you can really do it just about any time and anywhere. I have a few friends who run and made a few new friends over the winter that run (marathoners, no less – one ran in Boston this year) but mostly I’m just trying to keep myself in some semblance of shape.
I didn’t have any plans to run a marathon, half, 5k or anything like that. For the most part I was just running a mile or two a couple of days a week on a treadmill looking to either burn fat or build cardio (depending on what button I managed to hit when I stepped on it). But when a volleyball friend of mine was inviting people to the Emerald Isle 5k I decided on the spur of the moment that I’d go ahead and put a flag in the ground and give it a shot. I figured the worst that could happen was I keeled over halfway through – since I didn’t think I’d be the slowest runner out there I figured the chances nobody would run by me and see me laying on the ground gasping for breath and do something about it was pretty small.
I was a little apprehensive about the first run – I’d been doing a run/jog routine on the treadmills up at Bene-fit for two weeks before and it took me 45 minutes. I wasn’t winded at the end of them so I figured I’d do my best to run a 30-minute 5k. But after crossing that finish line (31:02; not quite to goal but still an improvement over the fact that two months before I couldn’t run one 10-minute mile without struggling to breathe) I decided I could do this more often.
I don’t know that I ever see myself running a marathon (maybe…?), but you can be sure there’s more 5ks in my future (along with running/fitness events like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash). I’m perfectly content at this point working on my beer mile and 3 mile runs; anything after that is just gravy.by