[This is my column in the Aug. 4 issue of The Commercial Review.]
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes.
Seven months ago, I struggled to run a mile.
Now, the same distance requires less effort.
Over the course of 2016, I have made a handful of lifestyle changes. I’m eating a lot better, I am working out a lot more and I am running more than I ever have in my life.
As a result, I’ve dropped more than 50 pounds.
My next challenge involves running, too.
I want to run a half marathon.
But there are a few obstacles I will have to overcome.
That’s why I’m giving myself the next nine months to train and prepare for the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May in Indianapolis. It is regarded as one of the best mini marathons in the country. It regularly brings competitors from around the country and globe to compete.
I’ve written in this space before that it has become fun to run. What once was an inconvenience is now a hobby.
The activity has been crucial in dropping a number of pant sizes and shirt sizes.
So I want to take the next step and run longer in one day than I have in an entire week.
A traditional 5K — 3.1 miles — is a lot easier than it used to be. Just Wednesday night, I ran an even 5 miles in just under an hour. That’s the furthest, and for the longest period of time, I have ever run on pavement.
The next step will be to increase that distance to a 10K, or 6.2 miles. That next milestone will be attempted on Saturday when I partake in the Zack Hummer Memorial 10K in Dunkirk.
I’ll have one goal. Finish. I won’t be concerned too about time, although my phone will be chirping in my ear each mile as to the pace I am keeping. That will give me an idea as to whether or not I need to push my body more, or slow down a bit. It will most likely be the former.
Now, I feel nine months to prepare for a half marathon is more than enough time. Some may think it’s too much time, but remember those obstacles?
The first is perhaps the biggest.
I’m asthmatic, and its effects on me vary from one day to the next. There are days in which I need my inhaler every three to four hours, and other days I don’t need to touch it. Having asthma is the major hurdle that has slowed me down physically. Some days I start a run and am simply unable to finish. On a few occasions, I’ve gotten a mile or two into a run and then had to walk for a bit because it got hard to breathe — humidity plays a big part — but I was able to continue.
It’s an affliction I’ve been battling my entire life, and it is without a doubt the toughest battle when exercising.
Then there’s the mental toughness.
For years, I’ve heard coaches talk about the mental part of sport, having the mental strength to fight through adversity for the sake of individual or team successes.
And now I know what that’s like first hand. With as much as I’ve been running lately, my legs, knees, hips and feet often get sore because they are not used to the increased workload.
Those days, when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, stand up from a seated position or walk, it’s tough to get the motivation to work out or go running again. That’s where my next big obstacle will be in this process of training for a mini — mental toughness. I’ll have to learn to push through the pain, for an extra mile, because my biggest fear in this is not being able to finish.
Over the course of the next nine months, I will dedicate the first Thursday of the month for a column regarding my training process for May’s mini marathon. That is, unless there is a more pressing local issue that requires my attention. However, I want to continue to write about this journey, keep myself accountable and perhaps convince others to join me in May.
So I come back to the Karnazes quote …
I will run when I can. I will walk if I have to. I’ll crawl only if I must. But I won’t give up.
I will cross the finish line in Indianapolis with 13.1 miles behind me.
(Countdown to Indy Mini: 275 days)