This week represents a significant milestone in my athletic life. It was 40 years ago in 1976 in the fall at the start of my senior year of high school that I began running for fun, health, and exercise, and I am still doing it today! I rarely ran every day – that would be too much mentally and physically. Everything in moderation is generally how I live my life. These days I usually run 2-3 times a week depending on the season, including a long run or a race on the weekends from spring to fall. The most down time I ever had was two 3-week periods due to injuries not caused by running.
My motivation to start was the doctor who performed triple coronary bypass surgery on my father. He looked at me and asked “What will you do so that you don’t have to go through this?” I had no answer. I had never thought about it. I did some research, and the “jogging” craze was popular at the time with heart and fitness benefits so for a phys ed elective in school I took “Jogging for fitness”. I loved getting outside (away from school) into the open air and Berkshire hills countryside of Western Massachusetts. I continued running through college and beyond, signing up for road races also. While training for my first marathon at age 31, I wanted to do some cross training. I came across something called a “trail race” which was being held in my home town on trails I used to hike on. Boy, did I love that! Soon after I switched to primarily trail runs for training and races which I have been doing for over 25 years now.
My next goal is to reach 50 years of running. I have been fortunate to make it to 40. It may be good genes, good habits, or just good luck. It may ultimately be bad genes which also cause me to quit but for now I am focused on the present. I am thrilled that my daughter Carolyn has also taken up trail running and is kicking ass in her division. I was not able to do that.
While thinking of a title for this post and with high school on my mind, a poem I first read back then in English class popped into my head. The last “stanza” (I looked that up) is most appropriate:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.