On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting old is rough.

When I first started running, running was easy.

It was the summer before my senior year in college and I was living in a ridiculously small town on a research internship. I started running more to kill time than anything else. When I returned to college in the fall, it was still easy. I easily maintained my rigorous schedule of drinking at least three nights a week and not sleeping much. I'd go to bed between 3 and 4 in the morning, get up sometime between 8 and 10, and run. 4 hours of sleep? 7 hours? Hungover? Didn't make a difference! No problem!

Me in that small town. A long time ago. In college.
Yeah. Not any more. Those days are over.

Friday night, I went to dinner with a friend and stayed out until about 1:30. I had to be up at 7:30 to meet my friend Mike to run, but I figured six hours of sleep would be sufficient.

Ha!! Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

The plan was simple: run 2m to meet up with Mike, run 3m out and 3m back with Mike, then run 2m home from our meeting place. 10m total for an easy medium-long run.

The day was gorgeous. Beautiful, slight chill in the air, sunny. Best day for running we've had since fall, I dare say. My compression sleeves were wrapped around my legs in a warm, pink hug. How I've missed them! (Personification of compression socks is intentional and ironic, btw.)


By the time I met up with Mike, I was ready to give up. 2m into my run. The run was slow, sluggish, miserable. I was so tired that I was nearly lightheaded. I was holding him back. My legs felt like they each weighed 50lbs. (Do they? I have no idea how my weight is actually distributed. They felt heavy.)

One of my favorite strategies back when I started running was to choose a short route and then double back on it a bunch of times. If I left the house saying, "I'm only going to go out 1.5m and back," I'd invariably finish the 3m and immediately double back and do it again. Getting out there and getting in the mood to run is the hard part; the actual running isn't.

Or usually isn't, anyway.

I suffered through the long run Sunday, but much of it was suffering. I didn't snap out of it until I was almost 7 miles into the run (and when I did snap out of it, it was because I was in such a haze that I actually think I might have been asleep while running briefly). I was slow, I was sluggish, I was tired, and I never shook that feeling. Eh, oh, well.

I have absolutely no pictures of me running from college.
But I have pictures of me in a hard hat. Go figure.


  1. Hard hat college pictures are funny. And yeah, I hear ya. I remember constant all-nighters and still functioning, somehow, all the time. Yet today, I feel like I would probably DIE if I tried to do that. Old. Feh.

  2. I can't even fathom how I functioned in college, similar habits as you, and somehow none of it fazed me at the time!