In case you were wondering, I’m still running. Well, sort of. I’m not sure if many would recognize what I’m doing as “running” but it’s the beginning of what will become running - eventually.
Three times a week I walk from the gym down to the east end of the Rotary Trail. I run/walk for fifteen minutes then turn around and run/walk back. My one rule is that I have to breathe through my nose the entire time.
It’s harder than it sounds, at least for me. I generally manage to cover two miles in those 30 minutes. I run until I feel the urge to open my mouth to breathe and then I walk until my breathing normalizes. I alternate between running and walking. Slowly I’m increasing how much I run as well as the overall distance covered. Yesterday I hit 2.05 miles.
Yes, my progress is slow. And yes, I’d be able to cover more distance faster if I would open my mouth to breathe. But here’s what I’ve noticed:
I run better. I stay upright with better posture, get longer strides, and can really feel the propulsion of my legs. I don’t shuffle like I see many runners doing or try to take short, little steps more often.
I don’t feel all banged up when I’m done. I don’t feel the need an additional half hour of stretches to undo what the last 30 minutes of running just did.
Years ago, Brett Jones, RKC offered a similar method at a Perform Better workshop as a form of auto regulation. In his lecture he showed a close-up of a face in pure and total agony. He asked the group, “If you came across this person wouldn’t you step forward to offer aid? Is this not the face of someone who needs help?”
He then moved to the next slide which was a full body shot of the same person. This time you could see he was wearing a runner’s bib with his race number emblazoned across the front. “How about now?”
Even on the Rotary Trail I see a similar sight. Not the face of agony, but bodies moving in less than optimal patterns for distances that are probably not providing long term benefit. Sure, these runners are faster than me and run further than me, but having been the Hare in this Tortoise and the Hare race for self improvement, I’ve found that being in too big of a hurry is a sure recipe for injury and reduced ability.
I’m in this for the long haul. I promised myself when I first started in this industry that I wanted to be the old guy in the gym. To paraphrase Dan John, “I might have one good injury left in me, I’m not sure how many recoveries I have left.” That means training with common sense and not allowing my ego to trump my greater desire to continue getting better even as I grow older. Slow and steady wins the race.