How I Became a Runner

This afternoon, I got my first blog post topic request from an old college friend. It read a little something like this:

blog post idea: could you write about how you first started running? like what distance and times were you doing (if you know the times). did you chart your performance or did you just run as much as you could? did you do anything other than running, like complementary weight training (also, do you do that now?)? I ask because you are my hero and I want to be you and I will probably buy you a dozen puppies before our long run this weekend.

(That last sentence might not have been part of the original text. But I can’t be sure.)

OK, anonymous blog fan whose twitter handle is @adamkommel. I’ll tell you about my formative first days as a runner. First, let’s set the stage. I know this is going to be a hard time period and backdrop to visualize, but tap into your deepest creative stores and try to imagine:

The year was 2011 and the city was New York.

After a blissfully slothful 2010, I had entered the New Year with a goal of getting my butt in gear (I believe that’s a scientific term). I immediately began tracking calories and upping my gym frequency, but since I’d made similar changes in the past with little success, I knew I needed something more.

The answer came on Jan. 4, when a favorite friend e-mailed to invite me to register for a 10-miler in Philadelphia later that spring. The offer sounded appealing enough: It is the largest 10-mile race in the country with 30,000 people, and is COMPLETELY flat and without any turns and maybe even a little downhill (only slightly).  P.S. If you join me, I will buy you a dozen puppies, per your usual terms.

Hoping the entry fee would light a fire under my lackluster exercise routine, I quickly submitted the registration form. Of course, typing in the credit card information was the easy part; now I had to get to work. A Type A personality with an affinity for schedules, I scoured the Interwebs for a training plan that someone of my athletic prowess would be able to complete. I ultimately opted for marathon guru Hal Hidgon’s plans, since they were 1. Seemingly achievable and 2. Free.

I had nearly four months between registration and race day, so I had enough time to start at Square One and build a fitness base. I began with Hal’s novice 5K plan, which had me logging accessible distances like 1.5 miles and let me be hungover on Sundays:

I didn’t chart my performance or measure my pace – I just put one foot in front of the other and ran. By the end of the training cycle, I had built enough of a base to move onto Hal’s novice 15K plan:

This 10-week program brought me up to 8 miles and powered me through the Broad Street Run. Never having timed myself during training, I had simply assumed my pace was a 12-minute mile, like my record-setting high school gym class speed. So you can imagine my surprise – and delight –  when I crossed the finish line at 1:33.23 after sustaining an average 9:20.29 pace. As my favorite 1994 fictional film character said, “From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!”

Of course, the downside of loving running is now I’d rather choose to log miles than to do any other form of exercise, including weight training. And you’re right, unnamed avid reader/Adam: strength conditioning is said to be the defining factor when it comes to proper running form, efficient exertion and, ultimately, shaving minutes off my race time. So with that, I give in and will adopt what many other runners have done before me: Fab Ab February.

I may be a week late to the party, but history tells me I’m bound to follow through with a scheduled workout if it’s in calendar form. And if the easy-to-read format isn’t enough to motivate me to keep this up, maybe the March vacation I just booked on a remote Caribbean island will be. Nothing says 100 sit ups like bathing suit season come early.

Now that I’m apparently taking requests, what do YOU want to learn about my running career/food choices/Forrest Gump affinity?

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4 Responses to How I Became a Runner

  1. Love this!!! Sounds like my story — fell in love with running = all other exercise is a fail. Being that I’m injury prone though I’ve slowly worked yoga/strength training into my life.

    2min planks are badass, good luck!

    • I know I need to buy into the whole yoga thing, but my inflexible body just keeps resisting it. I’ll set a goal to try it once between now and 2013. I give it a 50:50 chance of happening. 🙂

  2. Carrie says:

    Yaaaaay!! So excited that you are training for a full marathon. And that it all started in Philly! 🙂
    The puppies are in the mail.
    xoxo,
    a favorite friend

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