Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rob: The Clydesdale Effect

About four years ago and during a downward swing on the scale, I decided that I would try running; and by running I really meant jogging; and by jogging, I really meant moving forward faster than walking - most of the time. 
When people describe elite runners you often hear them compared to a gazelle.  They are lean, they are graceful and move with a sense of purpose and efficiency. 
I am more like a Clydesdale: There is a lot of up and down motion (trotting or possibly cantering), mixed with snorting, heavy breathing, sweat flying off my body like rain drops in a monsoon and the longer I run, an increasing amount of swaying like a drunken college kid trying to walk home from the bar. 
Combine my movements with a heavyset physique I like to think of as a brick shithouse on short but wide, muscular legs and a shaggy mane of brown hair ( and more recently a beard) and voila: Clydesdale.
It’s not pretty, or frankly even efficient, but I’ve moved to the stage in my life where I don’t really give a crap what people think about me and I’m not doing it to impress anyone or break any speed records.
When I started, I had a cotton t-shirt, shorts and a pair of cross-trainer shoes that I had bought when I decided to play squash with my brother on a semi-regular basis (my squash career was short and uneventful) however, I found I had a real passion for running.  I know some runners like the companionship of running with a buddy and the comradery in races, but I like the solitude.  I really enjoy getting out there and huffing and puffing my way down the road looking like the wolf trying to blow down a house, all red faced, listening to some tunes and observing the rest of the world.
Since the start of my running career, I have ran 5kms and 10kms, several half-marathons and even one eventful marathon in a very hot Walt Disney World.  I really have tried to be faithful to running and follow a schedule however, I seem to go in spurts and frankly with three kids, a fulltime job and a somewhat unhealthy addiction to home renovation projects (in the past year and a half we have reno’d our kitchen and basement not once but twice due to a flood), running seems to be the first thing on the chopping block.
Additionally and I’ll level with you, ever since running my last long run (4 hours) for that marathon I mentioned above in  -22C weather in December of 2012 in a snow storm, I have become more of a fair weather runner.  I don’t mind running in the rain and I don’t hate the heat or the windy day or even running at night but cold runs are out. 
However, this past winter my wife decided we should buy a treadmill to help her train for a crazy half-marathon she ran in May (Her first! Way to go honey!!).   I always found the treadmill at the gym super boring and really hated when you went all the way there only to find half of them were out of order and the other half were in use but for some reason have really liked using ours.  We have it set up in the basement, right in front of the TV and I find one Netflix episode of something light (42 minutes) is just about the length of time that I want to run.
My office has also recently opened up some change rooms complete with showers so I have been taking advantage of getting a run in about twice a week there so that it doesn’t eat into my home time.
All this to say that I’m on an upswing in running and trying to work my way to a downswing on the scale and I’ll leave you with a few random thoughts related to running:

1. There is nothing quite like that day when you drag yourself out to go for a run, not really in the mood and it turns out awesome. I won't say I run like the wind because unless Clydesdales are seen as the windy breed of horse, I will never be know as a fast runner, but rather I hit that groove, that zen-like state when everything else just fades into the background.

2. I have nothing but admiration for those who train hard, have that natural genetic shape or size or structure to run fast for sustained periods of time. However, there is nothing worse that when you're out plodding along and wave after wave of Bug Bunny runners blow past you with an obligatory smile and a wave. I know they mean well and in all reality are probably thinking to themselves: "Good for that guy getting out there ---he doesn't look so good---is my CPR certificate up to date--seriously, he does not look good." 

3. Running isn't for everybody. Those who like it, probably love it and those who don't actually probably hate it. Those who say they are indifferent to running are likely lying and actually either love it or hate it. However, if you haven't tried it in a while and need a break from your hectic life, maybe it's time to get your shoes on and go for a run.

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