Dr Zork

Click Stick to Run (Part 1 of 3)

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One of the great things about GeezersGamers.com is that it gathers together gamers who break the common stereotypes of gamers: male, young, no life, no mate, living in parentís basement, never goes outside and is unfit. Like most of you who visit this site, very few of those labels describe me, a gamer for 30+ years. (Sorry kids, it was in my generation in which video gaming for the masses was born). Iím definitely male but at 44 I canít be described as young and with a wife, 4 children and a steady job those ďno lifeĒ and ďno mateĒ labels certainly donít stick. I last lived with my parents about 10 years ago when I changed jobs to move back to where most of our family lives and I needed a place to stay for a few weeks while I settled everything ahead of my family joining me. I generally like going outside, except when temperatures are ridiculously high like they have been recently (100+). That just leaves ďunfitĒ. Yeah, well....

It was June, my 42nd birthday was approaching and for the first time in my life the bathroom scale was telling me I weighed 200 pounds. For much of my adult life I had stayed in the 165 - 175 range, not because of any effort on my part but because I was born with a physiology and metabolism that kept me there. But a slowing metabolism, a job requiring me to sit in front of a computer all day and a favorite hobby that also had me sitting in front of a computer or TV and slowly, over the years, I had slipped out of that range to where I was now. Worse, I felt old and creaky. I swear I could feel my muscles deteriorating. It was time for a change.

A few years earlier I was between jobs and began running in the mornings. I enjoyed it and even completed a 5K run, with a few walk breaks. Eventually, a new job was found and between that and kids in middle school and high school I stopped running. There was no ďI quitĒ moment, I just drifted away from it. Over the ensuing years I often promised myself I would return to running when the time was right. With my kids either graduated or approaching graduation and a job that I was quite comfortable with, the time was right. Thus began this brave adventurerís quest!

Like any proper quest, it started with item gathering. First quest location: Target, where I located reasonably priced, good quality running armor, er, apparel. In this game, expensive, epic (name brand) apparel gives no bonus to your running skill. I save my gold for something that does matter: shoes. My first adventure in running taught me, painfully, that you do not want to skimp on shoes because their quality most definitely impacts your running so my next quest location was Academy Sports where I acquire a pair of Nike Pegasus 26ís, a perennial favorite among runners. And that was pretty much all I needed to get started. One of the great things about running is the low cost of entry.

With items gathered, it was time to start my progression path. I chose a Couch to 5K Plan from one of the many available on the Internet and printed it out to hang on my cubicle wall at work. These are plans that typically last 10-12 weeks and have you walking/running at different intervals eventually building you up to be able to run a 5K. In running, itís best to slowly build towards your goal. Too much, too soon is a recipe for disaster. I also commit to consuming fewer calories. I donít go on any particular diet plan I simply try to eat less, e.g. I stop drinking sugary soft drinks on a regular basis, on pizza night I only eat 1 or 2 slices instead of the usual 3 or 4, etc.

I religiously stick to the plan and by the end I love running again. Iím feeling stronger, have more energy and my weight is dropping. I feel alive again! Soon after I enter a local 5K and finish it with no walk breaks, my first major milestone! Iím not even close to competitive with regards to time finished but Iím not doing this to be competitive, Iím doing this to feel better and I feel great. In the weeks that follow, I continue running on a regular schedule and complete another 5K and a 5 mile run put on by our local running club. Also, my weight has dropped to 175.

Itís now November and Iím having so much fun I decide itís time to raise the bar. I find a half-marathon (13.1 miles) scheduled in February in a nearby city and set it as my goal. I pay the non-refundable $60 fee and find a 8-week half-marathon training plan by Famous Running Guy on the Internet. I start the plan and up to this point the farthest I had run was 5 miles. The plan quickly had me up to an 8 mile run. Remember what I said about too much, too soon? Can you smell what I was cooking?
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