Five Observations after a Month of Running

I recently started trying to run again. The official start date of this adventure was on June 11 of this year. But I started thinking and talking about it in October of last. It took me basically nine months to get motivated to do something about it.

My renewed inspiration was because of a visit at the beginning of June from my nephew and brother-in-law, who were able to walk for days at a time without pause, nourishment, or sleep. They behaved like a couple of robots and I was ashamed of myself. After they left, I noticed that I had covered about five miles each day of their visit. So I bought myself a pair of running shorts and sweat proof shirt and started running and hiking three to four times a week.

The last time I really spent any time with sporting activity was probably between 2006 and 2010 while still living in Germany. There was a time where I could race from one end of Magdeburg to other in about 10 to 15 minutes on a bike. After my bike was stolen, I never bothered to replace it and kept to walking. Nobody could steal my shoes unless I was stupid enough to leave them on the street unattended.

I am 3Q years old and am 6’3” (192 cm) tall and weigh more than I should. I am not obese but I am overweight. I have never particularly enjoyed watching sports and was never really good at playing any of them. Because of light sensitve eyes, I also never really enjoyed playing either. But I did try.

In high school, I wrestled for a year, but after having my lanky body twisted into a pretzel, I decided for something different. I also felt like cannon fodder because I usually got pinned. But I once did pin a guy because he was more inept than I was. Then I tried swimming, but I was too slow and again never won a damn thing. Looking back, I am not sure I even won my self-respect. The next year I tried track and field, where I threw discus, tried high jumping and once ran a 200m dash on a full stomach. The closest I got to winning anything was fourth place in the 200m dash.

Add to it, I did not particularly enjoy locker rooms because they stunk of disinfectant and the constant dampness reminded me of a fungal infection.

In college, I rowed for a year and I was actually kind of good at it. I have a few medals from national competitions and even have some fond memories of participating. But my rowing career stopped after a one year because of a car accident and a lack of motivation to return to my former state of fitness.

Another point worth noting is that I never really liked running during practice, which was probably due to lack of muscle and lung development.

So it took me nine months to motivate myself to even try it again. I had all kinds of doubts. First, I thought that my long legs were not adept to running. Then I worried that I would look stupid. Then I thought I was overweight and would damage my joints. I had a list of excuses to procratinate and put off getting fit.

But running is cheap. It is not an expensive sport. It is not necessary to own anything more than a pair of shoes and a few items of clothing. Compared to a gym membership, I was able to get everything I needed for under 200 hundred francs.

So I started and I have managed to remain motivated. Thus far, I have run or briskly walked 17 times in one month. During this time, I have covered about 45 miles or 74 kilometers with 12 hours of exercise.

Normally, I exercise in and around Neuenkirch and Sempach, Switzerland. Farms surround the area, and Sempach has a lake.

Over the past month, I have noticed a few things about running and managed to observe five noteworthy items.

Observation 1: I have not yet run an entire 40 minutes.

But I am trying. Typically, I start running and switch to walking when my heart short of springing forth from my chest. I try to run at least four sections of a particular route that I am taking. There is path that I like but it starts out with a gentle downhill slope followed by a brutal climb. I have yet to manage to run much of the climb. But who knows, maybe in a month.

Observation 2: Llamas smell better than cows, which smell better than pigs.

I pass by a lot of farms. Many of these farms stink, but some stink more than others. Thus far, I have discovered that passing pig farms comes the closest to being tear-gassed on a run. But once or twice a month, farmers spray a slurry of manure on their fields and the smell is paralyzing. In fact, it acts as a motivation to get the hell away from the stench. There is one farm that has llamas. I can’t smell anything from that farm. There is also horses and they don’t smell too bad from the road.

Observation 3: My body needed a month to adjust to the new regimen.

A month ago, my knees and ankle hurt a lot. But I found that stretching tended to mitigate the pain. I also read quite a bit about how to run. I feel good about the results and I definitely feel a positive difference in my life both mentally and physically.

Mentally, I am less frustrated because I am able to run off any frustration. One of the motivating factors in starting was stress. My stress level was so high that I was breathing irregularly because I was trying to control my pulse by holding in my breath. It typically hurt my chest after a few times and was not effective in calming me down. These jogs have been amazing in changing my breathing patterns.

Physically, I can climb stairs easier without gasping for breath and turning beetroot red. My wife also noticed that my face is less red after each time I return from a jaunt. So I feel better in general.

Observation 4: My legs are more cooperative than my mind and lungs.

I have found that my mind has a way of blocking my body from performing. For example at one point, my heart will be racing with a pulse of 180+, and I will look ahead to some landmark or objectand tell myself that I will stop when I reach it. But the problem is that I usually stop about 5 paces before my goal. My lungs seem to be a problem at this point. But over the last two weeks, I have noticed that I am able to get further than before.

Observation 5: Finding a breathing rhythm is challenging.

My next challenge will be building up my lungs and heart so that I can continue climbing hills without too much burden. My legs and body seem to be fine but getting the respiration system up to the same standard may take a bit more time.

So after one month, I have noticed I can move greater distances than before. I may have to walk on occasion but it feels good. I feel better psychologically than I have for some time because I am able to keep my mind at peace and that is definitely a benefit to my daily life.

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