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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

20 years running

“When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Yesterday while I was running in Hope Ranch with my friends after work, I was doing some mental mathematics and realized that I have now been running consistently for 20 years.

I started running when I was in junior high school. I had never played a sport ever in my life, was never picked for teams until next to last in Phys. Ed. Running came about because it seemed like it was the only thing I could do that was athletic that didn’t involve jumping, catching, throwing, or bats, balls, water or racquets. Of course, I could have been a swimmer, but that would have involved being in a bathing suit around other kids, and therefore it was simply NOT an option. I can’t tell you how frightened I was to have to go swimming in high school PE. There have been few things in this life that traumatized me more.

My parents were runners, simply for the health benefits of a short run (2 miles max) a few times a week. We lived in a pretty place and they were young and athletic, so why not? They’d both run a couple of miles maybe three days a week. I remember being very impressed with my parents about this. I didn’t know many other kids, but I had a feeling that not too many peoples’ parents were out running.

Of course, I didn’t start to train consistently until my freshman year of high school, when I joined the track team. I would have just turned 15 that March. I remember feeling like such an imposter when I went to that first track team meeting. All these kids had done sports before, and I literally did not know how to act or what to say. That probably meant I didn’t say much. I remember being traumatized by the whole experience, because they wanted the freshmen to try different track and field events to see what we might be good at and want to compete in. I remember my dad picking me up, and telling him that I just wanted to run and maybe I should quit, because these field events were stupid and I wasn’t going to be any good at them. He encouraged me to go back the next day. And it must have gotten better after that, because I never wanted to quit ever again. So thanks Dad. That was good parenting.

It’s a very conservative estimate to say that over my running lifetime I have averaged around 30 miles a week. It’s probably closer to 35. But for the sake of the leaner early years, before I discovered long runs and half-marathons, we’ll say 30 miles a week for 52 weeks a year for 20 years. So that means I have run upwards of 31,000 miles to date. That’s a lot. I figure I can double that before I turn 60. 60,000 miles by 60. Seems like a pretty good goal. Only 40 more years of running to go.

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