It took a couple years to become a daily runner. Over the summer most days had included speed work.
And then I got a job. An awesome, relatively low-paying job at the newspaper, where I was pretty much at the top of the corporate ladder. Among the sports writing staffffffffffffffffff’s……..helpers.
The job was downtown (which, where I grew up, was actually the part of town that was down the hill), and I found the best way to get there was to bike. That obviously wasn’t the best way to get up, but it turned out to be good training. I also learned early in my career that the wind is always off the water -- in my case, uphill -- in the morning and off the land -- in my case, downhill -- in the evenings. The uphill ride was worse than lousy, but it got me in shape.
I also had a kind of crummy bike to start with. So I convinced my parents to take me to a bike shop two or three or four towns over and buy a less cheap-ass set of wheels. That $200 number still weighed quite a bit and rode like a dream about things that don’t ride spectacularly well. Adjusting for inflation -- we’re talking currency here, not tires -- that’s probably a $500 deal, which is way more than I should have spent on that bike.
But I digress. (Success!)
And yes, this book is about running. But for me, running is inextricably linked to cycling, so you’ll have to put up with forays into the latter. Live with it.
So running. Yes. Well, I gave up those sprint-walk treks out of town and started running to the wall. That’s lacrosse-speak for running to a place where I could take my stick and pass a ball to myself. (I tried...oh lord knows how I tried to make that stick-and-ball reference sexual; and just think of the potential with the part where I did it alone! Playing with balls, handling a stick, doing it on my own...how am I failing at this one?)
At first it was just to the wall, less than a mile, followed by a bunch of tossing a ball and catching it repeatedly. To start with, maybe a few dozen tosses with each hand -- I still had no idea how to play for real and couldn’t pass-and-catch to save my life. But there I was, lacrosse stick in hand, running to the wall each day. And after each session, I walked home, or just sat around at my friend’s house.
Along with the new biking habit, I started losing even more weight and actually getting stronger.
My training that first year was guided by nothing but how I felt. I still felt overweight, and I thought that I could run better, maybe build up some endurance or whatever. Check out the awesome sidebar to see my training regimen, which I meticulously tracked through my early running life and have dutifully transcribed in all its painful detail. Or perhaps it’s wholly constructed out of shadows and mist and ephemeral remembrances.
The First Training Plan
What’s that? You’ve never run before, but you got this book and now you want to start running? Follow this handy training plan to take your first steps to a new you! (Do not follow this handy training plan if you enjoy initiating lawsuits; in that case, it's not handy.)
1. Run short distances, like less than a mile at a time, a maybe 2 (two) times a week.
2a. Every couple weeks, run a little longer, maybe by a couple blocks each time.
2b. Every couple weeks, run another day per week, until you’re doing at least 5 and no more than 7 days per week.
3. When you get to a distance and frequency that are comfortably long and don’t bore you to tears and/or wreck your legs, stop extending them.
4. Start adding a second run on some days, proceeding identically to before beginning with Step 1.
5. Having skipped Step 4 for the second loop because you’re reading this sidebar and aren’t some sort of computer program that gets stuck in a loop and needs a persistent flag to be set before moving on, go to Step 6.
6. Keep running!
Next Up: Lots of Runs.
Mash out. Spin on.