Recently I read an interesting article in Globes. The writer interviewed five people from different backgrounds on why they run. I thought to myself that it was a pity they didn't ask me. I've also got a story to tell. Today on my morning run, a thought came to me. It's a free country. I'll write my story. As they say,“If anyone stops you call a policeman”. So here goes.

Ten years ago, my doctor told me that my cholesterol was too high and I had two choices. To take pills or to do exercise. I chose exercise. But it wasn't as easy as I thought. I decided to run. I had run a bit in my youth. I remembered how to do it. Didn't need expensive equipment. Didn't need to travel to any place. Just put on running shoes and run. But when? In the evenings I come home tired and hungry from work. In the mornings I need to hurry to beat the traffic to get to the office. Not enough time. Weekends are for relaxing. “On the Sabbath ye shall rest”. Anyway, I managed to run a little in between the excuses of too tired/ hungry/ full/ cold/ hot. Hated it. Tried long runs. Too boring. Tried short runs. Didn't get my heartbeat going.But my cholesterol went down. Miraculously. So I realized I would have to continue running.

I thought: how can I enjoy my running more. I analyzed it. On the days I forgot my watch at home, I was more relaxed. OK. No more watch. Also I was spending too much time choosing and changing the music. OK leave the iPod at home. No iPod. No iIPhone. No iPod. NoI nothing. Just the road and I.

Next issue. How do I motivate myself to get out of a warm bed in the morning to go running? So I decided to set three fixed days for running - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No deliberations, no negotiations, no debating, no decisions. Just go out and run. Hot, cold, tired, hungry, rainy, misty. No excuses accepted. Just do it… (to quote the Nike ad). Even if I'm in Eilat, Tiberias, Sydney or Honolulu. Business or pleasure. Those are my running days. Iron law. Even on the coldest, rainiest winter’s day. Some of my best runs have been in the pouring rain. Note to grandmothers: If you run for half an hour in the rain and then have a hot shower afterwards you won't get sick. It's proven. Your shoes will smell for a few days though till they’re dry.

I’ve come to love my morning run. It's my private time with myself. My thoughts are clear. I plan my day. I solve problems that I have been thinking about for days. I decide to forgive those who have irritated me recently. I map out that email I’ve been meaning to send. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in 40 minutes. Or 30. Or 50. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes me. My routes are between 6.5 and 10 km. Just right. Don’t need to sacrifice too much time. No time to get bored. I can still get to work before the traffic.I’m totally independent. I don't run in groups. I can leave early or late. Run fast or slow. Far or near. On the running days the rest of my day looks so much better.

It’s like the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode. Who’s going to blink first –me or the Israeli driver?

Running is a dangerous business. Israeli driversdon't want you on their turf. You come to a zebra crossing. It’s Russian roulette. Will he stop? Chances are 50/50 at best. If you continue running into the zebra crossing,you are taking your life in your hands. So I stop till I see his intention. I look into his eyes. He looks into mine. It's like the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode. Who's going to blink first? Sometimes the driver gets clever. He calculates that if he continues at his current speed, he and I will meet at the crossing and then he will be forced to stop and waste 10 seconds of his precious time.  So he puts his foot flat on the accelerator in order to be sure to reach the crossing before I do. The problem is that I'm running, so we do actually get to the crossing together. Man versus machine. There have been some near misses. Also there are those guys coming out of their driveways at great speed. Their assumption is that there cannot possibly be anyone on the sidewalk so there is no need to check. A few near misses there too.

In the summer I was in Japan. Went on my morning runs as usual. The Japanese driver is as different from the Israeli driver as night is from day. Chalk versus cheese. He waits patiently at a distance till you cross the road. He could sneak in before you get there but he doesn’t. No hooting. No dangerous speeding up. He gives you the feeling that you are the king of the road – not him. Much more relaxing. Much safer. Much better on the nerves.

Tried a sprint triathlon. No fun. The guys thought they were competing in the Olympic trials. Too competitive. Tried a 21 km race. Too long – got bored. The 10 km race is the one I like. It's a fun run. People are talking and laughing. Camaraderie. You even get a medal for participating at the end and a free ice cream. It's great. I do a few of those every year.

So this is my advice to would-be runners:start small and humble. The physiotherapy clinics are full of people who in mid-life suddenly decided to run a marathon. Take it easy on yourself. Listen to your body. If it's too difficult, cut down a bit. Be disciplined. Most important: enjoy it. If you don’t, you won't continue.

print Email article to a friend
Rate this article 

Post a Comment

Related Articles


About the author

Alan Liferow

Alan Liferow was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1961 and schooled at Sandringham High. He studied at Wi...

Script Execution Time: 0.041 seconds-->