How I Became a Runner

CP Reservoir

I started running in October 2007 simply because when our family moved from the West to East Side of Manhattan, we no longer had access to a health club in our building. Even prior to the move, I sporadically used a treadmill and never ran outdoors.

As a child, I played basketball exclusively thru high school and viewed running as a punishment. Rather than sign up at a nearby health club, my wife and I started running along the Reservoir Path in Central Park. At first, I could not complete the 1.56-mile route without stopping.

Nonetheless, we stuck with it and kept putting one foot in front of the other and found the gradual improvement over the next 3 months. I could run up to 4-5 miles. I started to keep a training log to observe the improvement in my running.

Weight loss was a side benefit. before I started running I weighed 225lbs (my weight for the last 10 years). At 6’2″, no one in my circle ever mentioned if I could lose a couple lbs … I have broad shoulders and was reasonably muscular (so I thought). End of year weight 195lbs.

ING NYC Marathon 2008 Finish Line

In 2008, I continued to run 4-6 miles 4-5 times a week exclusively in Central Park. However, I only ran on the asphalt as that’s what I assumed that is where “serious” runners ran. I never encountered a major injury, an occasional bout of ITB which required a week off the road. I rarely saw elite runners on the asphalt.

At best, I was a casual (ignorant) runner as I did not compete in races, join a racing club, read running books or websites. In the fall of 2008, friends asked whether I was running the NYC Marathon. In 38 years on this Earth, I had never given a marathon any thought whatsoever. I was barely getting thru the outer loop in Central Park (6 miles) … 26.2 seemed absurd.

However, during the week leading up to the 2008 ING NYC Marathon I became hooked. On a daily run, I actually ran thru the finishing line as they were preparing the course. On race day, I watched race participants pass by 1st Avenue & 83rd Street as well as the TV coverage. I would one day run the NYC Marathon.

EMT 2009 NYC Half Marathon

I surveyed the NYC Marathon race requirements, joined New York Road Runners and decided to run the 9 races + volunteer for another to receive guaranteed entry in 2010. As a beginner, I kept races to shorter distances (5K, 4M, 5M, 10K) to gain experience and build confidence.

I learned that I have a lot to learn about pacing and building endurance. My distance runner education began in earnest after I decided to run the NYC Half Marathon in August. This race held significance as it would give me the confidence that 26.2 is not impossible, just the next step.

I spent more time researching and reading Runner’s World Forums. I began to run the vast majority of training runs on paths and trails (easier on the joints long term and builds strength). I pushed my long slow distance runs to 8, 10, 12. In short, I became more serious about (while still enjoying) running.

While I finished the race (in brutally hot conditions), I was disappointed with my time. Nonetheless, the 2009 NYC Half marked a turning point in my running, setting the stage for what is to come! This blog is a window into that journey.