(I’m trying to get motivated to write a little more. This post is a little off-topic from my usual fare; hopefully it will be of interest to some. There will probably be 3 or 4 parts.)
This is my story about running. I don’t claim it should be the norm for anyone. If I lapse into 2nd person as I write, please be assured that it’s not intentional, and is not intended to be advice to anyone. If you decide to follow my example, please see your doctor first to make sure it’s advisable for you to do so.
The short version: I want to grow old well, and the only representative male in my recent family history died too young of a heart attack.
The longer version: Both of my grandfathers were sugar cane farmers. My maternal grandfather ate two heavily-salted eggs every morning, was almost never sick, and lived to 95, still in full possession of his faculties. Unfortunately, because my mother was adopted, that grandfather is only of assistance in gauging lifestyle and diet in my family, not genetic disposition to heart disease.
My father had rheumatic fever three times as a child, which wrecked his heart so badly that he’s had five open-heart surgeries for artificial valve work, starting at age 37. So his experience wasn’t really useful in thinking about my health risks. His father, however, was apparently healthy until one day he just dropped dead of a heart attack without warning. He was 57; my father was 26; I was less than one year old.
So, I hit 40 knowing that my closest male relative died suddenly only 17 years older than I was, and realised that that wasn’t the way I wanted to go. We had recently moved from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for a change of pace, and I was enjoying a more active lifestyle, but I decided that running was the next step in putting in place some better habits for the future.
I decided to ask friends and family for advice. My younger brother has run marathons, and several of my work colleagues were runners at various levels. So I asked them for tips on getting started and found out about Couch to 5K, a program designed to get couch potatoes fit enough to run 5 km (or 30 minutes) without stopping. I decided to give it a shot.
I like to do things at my own pace, so I decided from the outset that I wasn’t going to be held to their 9-week schedule. When we first moved to the Sunshine Coast, I couldn’t run from one end of Kings Beach to the other without stopping. So I knew it would be a slow process. But I kept plugging away little by little and eventually started achieving distances in the 2-3 km range.
Edit: part 2 is here.