Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is your brain on running

Running for me has always been as much about mental health as physical health. It clears my mind, calms me down (after the fact) and gives me a lot of time to put my brain in neutral without most of the interruptions of the day-to-day world – phone calls, e-mail, necessary errands, etc. More than once while running, an answer to a difficult problem has just popped into my head.

I don’t usually run with an iPod or portable radio like many people do. I prefer to run without a soundtrack. I run a lot on streets and roads without sidewalks, and I like to be able to hear the cars coming toward me, especially the ones coming up behind me.

For the most part, I generally prefer to run alone rather than with other people. I find that other people like to talk when they run. I’d rather save my breath for survival.

I clearly remember how I got started running. This was some years before running caught on and became a popular sport for the masses. A friend and neighbor, Royce Hough, said one day, “We ought to run.”

“What? Run where?” I asked in all innocence.

“I don’t know, maybe around the block for starters.” He had done some research and found out – duh – that running is good for your health.

That first attempt to run around the block didn’t go so well. Our block had a hill on two sides. I made it down the first side but not up side 3.

We stuck with it, though, and pretty soon we moved to a nearby park which had two softball fields adjacent to each other. Once around both of them was about a quarter mile, as I recall. My first running shoes were Marine combat boots. They were the only shoes I’d done much running in before.

After about a year I bought my first pair of Adidas. Big improvement. I felt like Fred Astaire. OK, I felt like Fred Astaire looked. There the resemblance ended.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gotta run now...

I should be old enough to know better, but it turns out I’m not.

I’ve signed up for the Los Angeles Marathon on March 20, 2011. I know, some people think it’s an insane thing to do at any age, let alone 74.

But when the little voice inside says do it, you gotta answer. And as Marilyn Monroe said (I got it from a reputable quotation site), “Ever notice that ‘what the hell’ is always the right decision?”

So I am going to blog about my training. In a very real way, I’m rebooting myself in the running game. I’ve run eight marathons in the past (completed seven – more about that later), but haven’t tried one in about nine years. I think I’ve still got the wherewithal – we’ll see as the training gets serious. I promise to report honestly!

Today (Nov. 14) went for my longest run in quite a while – 10 miles. Very slow, though, because of the excess weight I’m lugging around. Hopefully I’ll shed some of that during the training. The run felt great. A bit tired at the end but definitely not out of gas. Ran in Redwood Shores – saw a hummingbird, three egrets, a bunch of ducks, another bunch of Canada geese, and a great blue heron. At the end of the run I was running west and looking at a gorgeous sunset – in the Bay Area we don’t get that many with just the right amount and kind of clouds, but this afternoon was sensational.

I won’t be trying to add anything scientifically or athletically significant to the running literature. I’ll just be sharing my thoughts and feelings along the way. It might even be interesting, so please check back when you have time.