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Learning to run

Running isn’t exactly a new topic on this blog. I first decided to lace up my shoes back in August of 2006 and ran my first 5k in September of that year. After the initial 5k I never trained much for the races. I’ve run the local Hog Wild Days 5k every year since then, but even then never trained much or cranked up the pace much. My race times evidenced that fact: I ran that first 5k in 31 minutes and change, and 4 years later I was still running right about 30 minutes for a 5k.

At some point this spring, though, some switch flipped in my head, and running became enjoyable and something of a compulsion. I started tracking my runs using runkeeper.com and being more regular with my running. I got in more than 50 miles in April, 47 in May, slacked in June whilst on vacation, and now I’m back at it in July.

My times are showing the improvement. I felt pretty darn sluggish for the Hog Wild Days 5k this year and still completed it in 27 minutes. Then I ran the Alliant Energy 8k on July 4th and completed that in right at 45 minutes.

At the moment I haven’t made a real decision on whether to work for distance or speed next, but I’m leaning towards distance. I ran a 6-mile route this morning and really enjoyed it. I’ve been tossing around the idea of running the New Bo Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend, but haven’t been brave enough to send in the registration form yet. Either way, it’s time for a new pair of shoes between now and then.

I’m still working on understanding why I enjoy running as much as I do. Partly it’s the personal challenge, proving to myself that I can stretch my body beyond where it’s gone before. Partly it’s also so nice to have my body feeling perpetually tired and sore rather than slow and sluggish. It’s also nice when the running helps take off a few pounds.

I doubt I’ll keep with the running long-term as seriously as I have this year, but it’s something I want to keep as a regular part of my life. 30 years from now I’d love to be one of those old guys I saw in the race on Monday, still chugging along and running 5 miles faster than a lot of the young guys.

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