I should start running at age fifty? What? What are you talking about? That sounds absurd. But I think I’ll take you up on it. In fact, I’ve been getting a head start on this idea over the past ten days. But let me set the table.
Last year I ran a 30k trail race along the US/Mexico border in Big Bend National Park. I didn’t really train for this event thinking I would gut it out, which I did. About three miles in my left knee was on fire and soon felt like someone was inserting a steak knife just under my kneecap. Those nineteen miles were long and very painful. My cycling training really seemed to have no impact on my running skills which was a bit of a surprise.
When I was younger I was quite the running stud. I set my middle school record for the mile and I also did well on the cross country team. We were living part-time in Wyoming where I was running at 8000 feet, so returning to Texas was like running with a bottle of pure oxygen strapped to my back.
But over the years I fell out of love with running. It hurt. And it still hurts but I’m learning how to do it respectfully. One of my issues is that I do even more cycling today than ever before, so my cardio is good. So when I start to run I can fly, at least when it comes to my lung action, but my body can’t keep up. I break down.
So, I’ve started doing very short, intense run/walks. Three miles. That’s it. Half straight up, half straight down. On the way up I keep right below my maximum effort and on the way down I take short strides, landing and springing off the ball of my foot. I do NOT move fast. I practice my technique, stay within safe levels and try to enjoy the scenery. So far so good. I’ve done this four times now and have no pain to show for it. Well, I take that back. My legs were SO sore after the first run. But after three more trials, I’m feeling pretty good.
One thing I like about running is it doesn’t take much stuff or time. Good shoes, clothes to fit the weather and a good pair of sunglasses and you are good to go. I’m not suggesting you do what I do in this case. There are a lot of things to go wrong. The bike is a much safer thing to start, but if you are thinking of dusting off the old waffle soles then just take it very, very slow. And have fun.