Friday, March 03, 2006


In my quest for personal challenges I began running. I had gotten up to 35 minutes on the elliptical and figured that perhaps it was time to shift to the treadmill.

I have never been a runner. I have never had to run. I was never involved in athletics that involved sustained movement. In school I played baseball and football. In baseball I was first baseman - the most movement you make there is walking 5 steps at a time. You don't even have to throw well, you just have to be able to catch. In football, I played Center. There's no running in that position either - it's all blocking (but it has made me able to navigate through a crowded bar at warp speed). So adding running to my exercise regimen is a big deal for me.

Chicago is a big "running city". Everyone runs here. There's a race, like, every weekend. And there are people running along the lakeshore all year long, more so in the summer. Most of the people I know in Chicago are runners; the BF is a runner. So it's more than just exercise, it's also a social outlet. They all stand around and talk about the "Shamrock Shuffle" or "Hustle Up The Hancock" or the "Turkey Trot". At first I thought these were all dance moves or something. And then I caught on. I'm slow like that sometimes.

I attempted running on a treadmill once about 4 years ago. Not sure if it was the acoustics in the gym, the location of the treadmill, how much I weighed at the time, or a combination thereof. But when I ran, the sound of BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM reverberated through the gym. People actually stopped and turned, thus ending my running career. And I never tried it again. Until last week.

"Can you hear me? Can you hear me running?"
- Mike & The Mechanics

My original goal was to run for 15 minutes. I figured that if I could last 35 minutes on the elliptical, I should be able to last at least half that time on the treadmill. So I gave it a whirl. My iPod was blaring Annie Lennox in my ears and I felt good. Around minute number 11 though I started hitting my wall. I looked at the monitor and I had run 7/10 of a mile at 5 MPH. Suddenly it became more important for me to complete the mile than to last 15 minutes. So I pushed. And I made it. First time in my life, I ran a mile.

This fulfilled many goals and began some new ones. For one thing, knowing I can run a mile without needing to stop means that I am in better shape than I was before my heart surgery in August; and certainly better than the months following it. So the emotional impact of this was huge for me. I actually had to cry a bit on my walk home from the gym. There is nothing like personal fulfillment.

Second, if I can run one mile, then in no time I should be able to run two, then three. My plan is to continue to run one mile every day for a week, then on every Monday to add an additional 1/4 mile. Once I am up to 3 miles, I will then start increasing my pace and speed. My ultimate goal is to run in the
Race to the Taste 5K in July. And then I will be able to stand around with my friends and discuss local races.

And perhaps a few dance moves.


  1. You're a better man that I, Dop.

  2. Perhaps I am just more insane.

  3. Yay, Dop!
    I too am not a runner. Hate it. Love the elliptical machines, and lifting, but running...ugh.
    I manage a small gym part-time. So last week I was there by myself, and decided to give the treadmill a whirl. 5 min. walk, 5 minutes run, 5 minutes walk. And I was all proud of myself for not passing out after running for 5 minutes.
    The next night this girl comes in and seriously runs for 45 minutes. All I could think was damn, I've got a long way to go. Funny how you can be in shape, but not--cardiovascular-wise.

    Your goals sound realistic. Again, good for you! :)

  4. Running, schmunning. I'm so glad my right ankle was mangled in kindergarten so I was forced into swimming. Besides, runners have terrible knee and hip problems later in life. My 2 cents.

  5. I hate running. (Boring.) But I admire you for your goals.

  6. Give me a ball to chase around a field for hours (rugby, field hockey, lacrosse and soccer), but tell me to run in a straight line and I'll go nutters in about 5 minutes. This is all to say, back in the uni days when I played D-1 soccer all of the sport teams had t-shirts. The track and cross country teams' shirt appropriately stated, "Our Sport is Your Punishment." truer words were never said.

  7. I've no doubt I look to be a serious disaster when I am running, but I am doing it anyway. I haven't really had a workout goal in a few years, I have always just been maintaining. So this is good.

  8. Dop -
    Congrats on the goal accomplishment! It's always good to achieve something tha you have set for yourself. Wish I could have running as one of them but too much running these days generates shin splints and nagging ankle pain. Weak ankles - genetics unfortunately. I love the eliptical though - can and have spent anywhere from 45 mins to an hour doing it. My cardio!

    So I hope you reach your big goal of running the Race to the Taste in July. You'll do it. Hope the work environment has changed for you. Any better? Any new job in store? I have to get out to Chicago for that darn Taste of Chicago one of these days. I have had friends who have ranted about how much fun they had!

  9. Awesome. I used to absolutely hate running, but I started in earnest a couple of years ago and now I'm hooked. I never do more than 2-3 miles, but it's worlds better than cardio machines, especially once you get outside.

    Being in Chicago, you should give the Evanston lakefront a try sometime as you increase your distance, if you're ever up that way. There's a really nice gravel trail, about a mile each way, starting just south of the NU campus.