Since returning to running at age 65, following a 12-year hiatus, on October 6, 2022, I have accumulated 90 miles and feel very good about that. My weight loss journey started a little more than a month before that as I waited for the temperatures to settle into a comfortable range here in southern Nevada. But as of today, I am down 31 pounds with about 60 more to go.
Knowing that I will cross my first 100 miles marker next week has me pretty stoked, even though my pace is still slow and my recoveries long.
There is a Christian rock band, Kutless, that I listen to from time to time. One of their best songs, “What Faith Can Do,” has the following line in its lyrics. It goes like this: It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word. It’s just a reason for someone not to try.
They are words that frequently cross my mind while I am running. Here I am running again. Here I am accomplishing things that some people have told me are impossible for someone like me…someone at my age and my weight. My own primary care physician told me not to run when I talked to him a couple of years ago about starting up again. He made it clear that running is the worst thing I can do.
No. The worst thing I can do is nothing.
So, on the subject of IMPOSSIBLE, I have included the video from Kutless for you to enjoy.
Behind me, not too far back is my start, or more accurately, my restart. It is so close that with a mere glance I can catch sight of it in my rearview mirror.
The step-off did not begin with my foot hesitantly lunging forward down the driveway and onto the street. That came later. Instead, it started with frustrations sprouting from many directions, mental sparring that convinced me that something had to be done. I had done it before, and I can do it again.
The problem was, I was running out of daylight at my age. It had to be now or never, and never just rang hollow for me.
But the decision to jump off the starting line came with the sun still sweltering here in the Vegas Valley, my favorite times of the year governed by temperature, and that was the mid-seventies and down. Any hope of a plunging temperature was still many weeks away, so I turned immediately to my caloric intake and my inherited rowing machine.
There was within my calorie consumption a major hurdle.
I was a latecomer to my coffee love of heavy cream, having spent most of my adult life drinking it black. But when I first indulged in the flavorful richness of cream (heavy, no light stuff for me), it was coffee heaven. And over the years, I drank it with impunity, giving little thought to what it was costing me in terms of an expanding waistline and a heavy hand on my health.
Of course, I still love it today, but I do so with a measured, limited approach. Even at 65, it is never too late to start making better choices.
I realized that my coffee habit was out of control and needed to be severely curtailed if I was going to have any hope of success. So, reluctantly, I put away the cream and started to drink coffee black, a biting, bitter, nostalgic reminder of that old days and I realized, that while I will never give the cream up entirely, for the time being, black would be just fine.
In a note of full disclosure, I have come back to cream in a very limited capacity, brewing each Keurig cup of Italian Roast with the brewer’s smallest drink size and measuring out just enough cream to give me the taste that I desire while managing to keep things under control. (Better than nothing!)
Apart from my heavy cream issue, I selected 1700 calories as my daily allowance, with a focus on better quality food and better choices, even in an environment of rising food costs.
Then, of course, there was the course of physical action I would take, waiting for the Sun to be a little more forgiving. We have in our home, one of the cheapest magnetic rowing machines available. We bought this for my wife who, in the past, found rowing to be a great exercise for her in the past at the gym. But with her own health issues, primarily related to her back, it was pushed to the corner and ignored.
Eyeing this contraption, I set it back up and climbed aboard. It had nothing in terms of bells and whistles, and it was so low to the ground, I immediately understood my wife’s struggle with it. After a little experimentation, including finding the right cadence of songs to listen to, I was soon rowing away contently, working up a sweat, while pulling the oars at 22 strokes per minute.
So my journey back began back in September, with a starting weight of 290 pounds hanging on my 74-inch frame.
But as for my progress, I will not track the details through my posts, only mentioning them here and there. Instead, I will devote to details to a separate page which will be going up very soon.
So enjoy your journey as you read through mine. Many of us have a lot of work to do.
Here I am at the end of October. At my age and with my starting over at running, I have made many considerable changes to how I go about things. One of those is that I am not running every day. Even more shocking, there will be times when I skip two days without running.
And that’s okay!
Just like embracing a slower pace, there is no need for me to run every day, or at least six days a week to accomplish what it is I want to accomplish. And there is no need to push myself, risking injury. Besides, old bones need more time to recover than they used to.
So here we are on October 31, Halloween, and no running today. As I have now officially closed my first month of running after more than a dozen years, I can look back on what I have accomplished and feel pretty good about it. Yes, I am slow. No, there is nothing about my running that resembles anything that a great runner looks like as they spring their way down the road.
And that’s okay, too!
As John Bingham once wrote, “I am a runner because I run.”
My goal was eight miles for my last run of the month, yesterday, heading a couple of hours after church on a Sunday afternoon. I felt good. There was no lingering pain, and I felt rested. The longest run of my first month back at running was 7.2 miles, so 8 seemed reasonable.
The area that I ran pushed me to the edge of town, up against the desert. It was quiet and comfortable, and with my iPod and playlist, I was waddling (or Penguining) along just fine to REM, The Cars, Wang Chung, Duran Duran, and others. I was, following the advice of Wang Chung, having fun (as in Everybody Have Fun Tonight), though my run was a party of one.
I thought for a time that I might be getting some company on my run. There is nothing like a sign warning about rattlesnakes to get your eyes scouring the ground and your mind consumed with them.
Fortunately, the party remained a party of one. No rattlesnakes or coyotes this day.
But eight miles never happened in October (and that’s okay, too.) Though the temperature was comfortable, as the sun fell in the west and began to beat me again on the side of my face, and shoulder, I began to sap whatever endurance, and stamina, I had left, and my run ended at six miles. Switching my Garmin to a walking exercise, I lumbered my way home the rest of the way, grabbing bottled water at a corner market on the way.
So while there has been nothing pretty or awesome about my restarted running experience, I ran. And my total for my first month back in October, was a smidgen over 46 miles. When you add in that my first run back from the brink was on October 6, I’d say, “Not too bad for an old fat man.”