Advice from a rare breed

Eventually, when 10KM runs became tolerable, I decided I wanted to enter the world of distance running.

I started researching training programs and diets. My browsing history was an endless list of articles like “How To Run Your Best Marathon”, “Eat to Complete” and “The Best Shoes for Over-Pronators”. To be frank, it overwhelmed me.

overwhelmed fleck

One weekend, while visiting my in-laws, my husband mentioned that his parents’ neighbor, now a senior, used to run marathons and triathlons. In fact, now in his 80s, he still cycled for 2 hours every day on his stationary bike.

My husband suggested I talk to him about training.

My mother-in-law kindly invited him and his wife for dinner so I could. This made me happy, not only because I could pick a gazelle’s brain, but because company meant my mother-in-law would make pancit and spring rolls.

filipino food

He was a quiet man, unassuming and gentle, who looked more like 55 than 82. Towards the end of dinner, we finally got to chat about running.

“So, how many races have you ran?” I asked expectantly.

“Oh, dozens, but I didn’t really keep track. You see, I didn’t decide to become a runner until the kids were grown up. I was probably in my late 40s. One day, I just put on my shoes and thought I’d see how far I could go. And each day, I went a little further, until I was able to run a marathon. I enjoyed it, so I just kept running them.”

40 start

“You didn’t compete or anything?”

“Oh, no. I was never interested in that. Tell me, what distance are you wanting to try?”

“I’d like to run a half marathon this year,” I replied.

“Oh yes, the Half is probably the most pleasant of all the distance races. It’s long enough to be a challenge for elite runners, but not so long that first timers struggle to finish.”

I gulped.

My biggest fear was signing up for something I couldn’t accomplish, so I asked him if he’d ever failed to finish a race.

“Of course! I remember once running the Ottawa Marathon in a terrible cold rain. My heart just wasn’t in it. At the 30KM mark, I called it quits. It’s important to listen to your body. Sure, it can play tricks on you, but it will also scream, loud and clear, when it’s done fighting. That day, mine was done. And that was okay, because I knew there’d be another race, or another day when I’d finish the distance on my own.”

bad days can be good

“So, I’ve been researching diet and training regimens for the half marathon. But I really don’t know if I can stick to a weeks-long program. What kind of training program do you recommend?” I asked.

He grinned. “There’s so much information out there, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it?”

I nodded, dewy-eyed.

“But running isn’t hard, really. It’s just one foot in front of another until you need to stop. Just try to run the distance on your own and see how you do. You’ll know when you’re ready.”

It was so simple.

Just get out there and try.

Why hadn’t the Internet told me THAT?!

mind blown

By then, dinner was over and I got up to help clean. During dessert, he leaned over to me.

“You know,” he whispered, “us runners… we’re a rare breed.”

I smiled.

“No,” I thought, as I looked at his kind face.

“You’re the rare breed.”

rare breed

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13 thoughts on “Advice from a rare breed

  1. Awww. Such a kind and gentle sounding man. I love this post, love the simplicity of this dear man’s words of wisdom.
    Thank you for sharing this. So refreshing amidst all the training programs, high tech electronics and special diets.
    One foot ahead of the other, my friend! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed he is! Honestly, I learned more by talking to him than I did in all of my research. To be okay with a DNF,… that is something I’m still working on, but I hope someday I can see it like he does. There’s so much on the market to suck us in but, really, all running is, is you, your shoes, and the road!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A wise man and a rare breed indeed! It’s funny, with all that you can read and research, and the crazy amount of money you can spend, we tend to lose sight of the basics. My best runs have been those with no agenda- no planned distance or time. Like he said, just one foot in front of the other. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right?!?!?!! Same here. We spend so much time and energy and money on things we don’t really need, we miss out on the fun (and beauty, cheezy as it sounds) of just getting out there and enjoying it.


  3. Dewy-eyed, he speaks the truth! I look at plans and think er, I’ve got this and this that day. I want to do a workout and not just run that day, so I set my distances and work up to them or just say whatever it and run it! I’m working up to 20km. For now I’m happy with 14km, that’s challenging enough for me! I’m not a strong runner, I get bored easily but I like running. It’s also finding the time for long runs and I like my workouts to much to be running every day! There’s no money in his advice so the internet doesn’t share it!

    Good luck with your 1/2 marathon. I’ll be cheering from here!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The full spectrum of human emotion that was my first half marathon | See Fleck Run

  5. Pingback: Guest Post – Advice from a rare breed | HarsH ReaLiTy

    • You can do it! I am convinced that if I can run, anyone can. That said, if you have health battles, really listen to your body. It’ll get you through anything but you have to listen to what it’s telling you! And remember a 25 minute 5K is equally as long as a 50 minute 5K! Distance counts, not the time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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