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Building up a tolerance for long-distance running

Running and Fitness
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Another week of stay at home has passed. When talking to neighbors, or friends over the phone, the most common question I have been hearing is, “How are you doing these days?” I tell them that I am doing very well. Part of my adapting to this new lifestyle comes from being a runner and two words that make it easy. The two words are ‘creativity’ and ‘patience’. 
Creativity is needed to be doing something besides sitting on a couch watching television or video games. It should be movement creativity. The one thing I notice when walking around the neighborhood is everyone is trying to win the ‘Yard of the Month’ award. If you want to keep up the lawns needs constant mowing, new flowers, rose bushes, and spreading some kind of compost on plants are all necessary. A few more adventure seeking people are adding additions to their house, or at least painting the rough areas. All of those ‘honey do’ items that have been on your list for several years can now be completed.
Some people are trying new exercise routines to add to the daily run. Lifting weights, doing some pushups, and sit ups after a run are a few exercises to add now that you have time on your hands. My wife tried her hand at a creative haircut on me. At least it was creative, but nobody will ever know. 
The patience comes from the advancement you have attained after years of running. All that you accomplished probably took many years to reach. It was a gradual progress that came with each extra effort you tried and some hard work. I ran the 440 yard dash in high school and college (it is now the 400 meter run). It was one trip around the track and I thought that anybody that ran around more than once was downright crazy. I thought that the track athletes that ran the mile and two miles events were “spaced out” as they walked around with glazed eyes. 
For a step up after a good weight lifting work out my friend and I jogged a mile. We thought we were really on top of the fitness world. One day he suggested we run to his house and back for a distance of three miles. Two things happened from that run. One, I was glad I was able to meet a new challenge with only a couple of stops along the way. The other thing was a reminder of why I hated to run long distances. 
Next step on this building up a running patience experience was getting tricked into running the first Capital 10,000 race. That was over six miles and I remembered how hard that three mile run was. I finished in just under 55 minutes – you had to run under 55 minutes to qualify for a race T shirt. But, thinking back at my track days and thinking the 440 yard run was the most painful thing I ever ran, and now being able to run over six miles, was a good feeling. It took 20 years to reach this pinnacle of running, but with patience I was able to meet the challenge. 
A few more 10K races and trying to run twice as fast in a 5K taught me that you can’t run a 440 yard pace for 3.1 miles. Even a 5K pace requires some patience if you want to have a good finishing kick.
Then my running partner suggest we try running a half marathon. It was down in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston Army base. We kept a slow pace as the primary objective was to finish. We finished the race in good shape and my dislike for running long distances was fading fast. 
It was not completely absent from my mind set when a friend suggest we run a marathon. I really balked at that suggestion and in a loud and clear voice I said, “NO!!” But, as he was a running partner I began training with him. It was still never my intention to run a marathon. He ran his marathon at the Dallas White Rock Marathon in December. Since I had been putting in the miles with him I signed up for the Houston Tenneco Marathon in January. It was a two lap course around the park down in central Houston. My friend said he would pace me on the first lap. The second lap was on my own and my goal was to finish under the 4 hour mark. I managed a 3:45 time and experienced leg cramps that prevented any movement. My support crew leaned me against a pole and put my sweat pants on for me since my legs wouldn’t bend.
As painful as that first marathon was I knew I would run another marathon. With a 3:45 time I was asked several times if I was going to run the Boston Marathon. The qualifying time for me back then was a 3:10 marathon time. That meant running over a minute faster per mile. No way was that ever going to happen. The ‘be patient’ thing kept hanging around and after a number of marathons my time dropped down to 3:20. Now that 3:10 qualifying time was not as distant. I did run under a 3:10 at Dallas and Houston the next year and qualified for Boston. I ran Boston, but only for fun to experience the crowd and struggling up Heart Break Hills. 
The patience from running 440 yards to running 26.2 miles fast enough to run Boston took over 25 years. This is why a runner has the patience when the ‘stay at home’ lifestyle needs to be followed. It is very easy to enjoy the ‘stay at home’ after all those years of patiently adding miles to a long run.

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