Just thought I would throw a few stories here.
We've been running for nearly 10 years.
The way we got started was I discovered I had high blood pressure. Seeing I have several relatives, including my mother, who have had strokes and either died or were crippled I panicked. The first thing I did was reduce my activity so I wouldn't do anything to cause a stroke. After being told by three different doctors over a period of a couple of years that I needed to be exercising I decided to try walking.
About this time we went to see the San Jose 10K. I like to go
to local events. It was fun. We saw some really fast guys and women. I
was impressed by their athleticism and knew I could never do that.
Walking is extremely boring. Especially if you go on the same route all the time. I decided that if I was going to do this to get an aerobic boost I needed to measure my distance and keep track of my times. So I measured a course in my neighborhood that is about one mile around and began walking it nearly everyday. My plan was to keep improving my time until I hit some plateau. I sure didn't plan on being a jogger.
After a couple of months I had hit the plateau and couldn't improve. It was difficult trying to walk as fast as I could. I started taking a few running steps and suddenly my time improved. The more running steps the better my time.
We went to the San Jose 10K again. Only this time we hung around for a while. When we started towards our car we had to cross the course in another area and discovered runners - tall ones, short ones, men, women, children, fat ones, skinny ones, ones running easily others struggling and some walking. What a revelation!
It was then that we realized that we could probably do that. So we worked on our running and discovered the bike trail, really a multi-use trail near our house. As we look back we realize that we didn't know what we were doing. We hacked away at it that summer and winter. The next year as the 10K approached we sent in our entry forms and kept working. Unfortunately the 10K is scheduled for the middle of March, just at the end of rainy season. So the rain screwed up our training. Not that we were training much anyway.
We figured if you can run two or three miles then you could run four and if you can run four then you must be able to run six miles. So away we went.
The race was miserable. I struggled, I walked, I limped, I tried, I died. I almost took a short cut but Deb talked me out of it. We finally crossed the finish line. We were whipped. We struggled to our car on spaghetti legs and got home. Then the suffering started. We had obviously over done it. We laid around Sunday. I think I took Monday off. We ached and pained through the week and had lots of doubts about doing anything like that again.
When the next Saturday came around we looked at each other and decided to go run one more time. Guess what! We did better then we had ever done before. We were inspired. We now know that you often get a post race boost because you work so much harder in a race.
We then decided to try a 5K. That was much more sensible.
Over the years we have learned a lot about running. We read Runners World magazine and participate in as many races as we feel we can do.
We have found that participating in a race every few weeks really inspires you to work harder at training. There have been years, like last year, where we ran very few races. But we continue to be runners even when we aren't running much.
As I mention in the other note - running is as much of a mental exercise as it is a physical one.
In my opinion you have to participate in races to keep you inspired. It's a great way to set a goal and then see how you do. You always get an official time and place. All races have age classes so you are competing against your own own group. My plan is to beat the average guy in my age group - this hasn't happened in a couple years however.
I think nearly anybody can run and run forever. You just have to listen to your body and not over do it. If you are injured then take time off or take it easy.
To be a runner you must keep at it and push to improve or you might turn into a jogger. Remember as a runner you are out there to improve your conditioning, improve your time and learn about your body. You aren't out there just to see nature and get a little exercise.
A hint from me is to reset your personal best every year. Don't compete against yourself from years before. You must start over each year and try to improve your time as the season passes. Actually in California it's racing season pretty much all year.
For me the five miler is the best race. 5K is too short
and 10K is too long.
I don't have an interest in running a marathon - too much time and dedication. Also I think training for a marathon is more an endurance thing and I believe in a combination of endurance and high aerobic level (speed).