I can't remember the first time I ran. Probably none of us can, as I'm sure it happens sometime soon after we learn to walk.
But while just about everyone walks and probably wouldn't dream of not doing, it, relatively few people willingly run just for the sake of it anymore.
And that's a shame. Somehow, an instinctual, fun, activity – one it's been argued we were born to do – has picked up a bad rap. It became work. Punishment, even, especially in other sports. Do bad and you're made to run laps.
It doesn't have to be that way. And it's my intention with this column to introduce you, or perhaps more accurately, to reintroduce you to running.
So, grab a pair of shoes, lace up and let's get started.
You don't need a lot of fancy equipment. A good pair of shoes, some decent shorts and socks are about it. There are two good running stores in the Pittsburgh area, Elite Runners and Walkers in Robinson and Fleet Feet in Bethel Park.
(Full disclosure: I've purchased shoes at both stores and regularly volunteer at races Elite is involved with. And I worked for Elite at the Pittsburgh Marathon expo.)
Either store will help outfit you. But don't put too much stock into what shoes can do for you.
Remember the old commercial for Air Jordans with the line "It's gotta be the shoes" when Michael Jordan dunked?
Most often, it's not the shoes. Shoes won't make you faster. Just get a pair that fits comfortably.
The mistake most beginning runners make is to push too hard. You can't start out too slow. Take walk breaks. Don't feel you have to run, say, five miles your first time out to be a runner. You shouldn't be all out of breath or hurting. "No pain, no gain" is a catchy maxim, but following it is a surefire path to injury.
A good way to start is to follow a program such as the popular Couch to 5K plan.
I find it helpful to log my runs. It's fun to see the miles build up and it gives you insiration and motivation. There are a number available online, but this is the one I use: RunningAhead.
And while you certainly don't have to race, that can be a fun way to test yourself, by either measuring yourself against an individual goal or people in your age group. Here are two race timing services that cover the area: The Runner's High and Miles of Smiles.
With the New Year just days away, now's a good time to make a resolution to improve fitness. I rekindled my relationship with running on a New Year's day and have stuck with it for four solid years, improving steadily even as I get older. And that's not uncommon.
Feel free to email me any questions you may have. And if you've got an inspirational story, I'd love to hear it and share it. You can expect this column every other week or so.