Saturday, July 23, 2011

You ask. I answer

"Explain to me how an Apache brave can chase down a runaway mustang and I've got kids who get tired playing basketball" - Abe Lemons

Thomas Voekler is my hero. If you haven't been following the Tour de France, you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. If you have been following it, no further discussion is necessary. He is every endurance athlete's hero - big underdog...bigger heart...never, ever gave up. NEVER!!

When you've been around as long as me and God have, you find yourself frequently amongst runners or non-runners, and when a conversation ensues, there is usually certain frequent questions and comments that arise. Now, don't get me wrong. If I had to ask my mechanic a question about my car or my agent about how insurance works, I'm sure they could write a much better post that this. But I thought I would try to collect a couple themes that pop-up in my running life around my non-running and running acquaintances.

I'll bet you can eat anything - Sure I can. And so can you. Oh wait, you're talking about not becoming what is politely called "big-boned" or "husky". Well, running is NOT that great a weight loss tool, but it does help. Plus, you will generally navigate to a healthier way of living in general.

Don't your knees hurt? - My ankles scream, but my knees are super. No studies have been done to show running increases your chances of getting arthritis. Of course, running does keep the weight somewhat under control (see above), and as a PT, I know 50 extra pounds makes your knee cartilages wear out like the midsole of your running shoe.

How fast can you run a mile? - I haven't the slightest idea. Can't ask how fast I can run 26 miles, can you? Wait, lately, I don't want to answer that one either! Last time I ran a mile for speed was in High School, and that was too long a distance that almost killed me. I mean it was FOUR times around the stupid track!!

Don't you get bored? - Yeah, when I get asked questions like that I get bored! I've been running over 30 years, and there have been many downsides to my running, but I wouldn't put boring in there. I could run the same course every day and it's a new day for my running.

(In cold weather) Won't your lungs freeze? - That's always a laugher. Depending how well I know the inquisitor, I'll tell him what part of my body I'm afraid of freezing - ain't my lungs buddy! Whoever invented HotHands should be King for life. And as a tip, HotHands don't HAVE to be only used to warm up the hands!

Why do you run? - Why do you not run?
This is one question that most runners don't have to ask. However, if they do, the stream of thought can be endless, philosophical, insightful, intriguing, unique, and as special as any given run. Being runners, we understand why we run - how we feel when we don't run - what we run for. Non-runners ask this question of runners more than runners ask it of themselves. Unfortunately, most runners, including myself, struggle to answer this adequately.

I run some, but I'm not a real runner! - So, you're a fake runner? If you run, you're a runner. If you run/walk, you're closer to a runner than a walker. If you walk, you're a walker. BUT THEY'RE ALL REAL, MAN.

Do you run or do you jog? - AAARRRRGGGHHH! Just see the previous question. If you're bothered when somebody asks you this question, then you are DEFINITELY a runner!

How far is that marathon? - Usually followed with "I ran a 3 mile marathon walk-a-thon once!" The answer "26.2 miles"...other runs are shorter than a marathon or longer. Got it? Doesn't even compute to most non-runners.

Do you run the whole way? - Now, here's where some fudging comes in. Answer "NO, I walked a little" and their heads nod approvingly as if they want to say "Well, I could do that!". So, the stock answer usually is "Yep, cowboy. Sure did"

Did you win (the marathon)? - Yes, I sure did.
How long did it take you? - A little over an hour
That's pretty good, isn't it? - Yeah, pretty good. The subject quickly changes and they never check

How many miles a day do you run? - well, that varies. I tend to feel compelled to explain my weekly program, with the big emphasis on the long day. Usually comes down to "Oh, an hour or two, maybe more". Again, it means nothing to them.

When's your next race? - This is usually asked in the finishing chute of the race you just finished. Sometimes it's asked at the starting line before the gun goes off, at which I like to answer "This one".

Do you like those shoes? - No, they kill my feet, but I paid money for them, so I'll wear them till I wear them out and I can throw my money away on another crappy pair.

What pace are you going to run? - Usually asked at the beginning of a marathon. I guess it's an honest question, but whatever the answer, most likely that plan will evaporate fairly quickly.

Did you read BORN TO RUN? - God, I hate that question. What is it? A right of passage into the Running New World? Yes, I read it. Now, the fun begins because I thought mostly it was a pile of non-substantiated theories that will lead to a whole host of new running injuries. Wait, I'm a Physical Therapist, so, yeah, business is good...Keep reading...Keep running's my card...see you soon!

Despite my occasional angst at having to answer these questions, I love it. In my clinic, if I can sway one non-exerciser to begin a program, another brick is put in Al's life-mission wall. When training new runners, I try to drum it into their heads to ask a million questions. I don't know all the answers (or even a small percentage of them), but the more you ask, the more we both learn. Whether you're a teacher, a doctor, a politician, or whatever, there are going to be some questions you will hear again and again. You've just got to smile. If you're a runner, lace up your shoes and go. If you're not yet a runner, get some shoes, lace 'em up, ask questions, and I'll see you all on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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