Jim Winter Is…. The Running Man

I recently started running again. I hadn’t run seriously since my last cross country race in high school. That was in 1983, so I’ve had a 29-year recovery time. I hope it’s enough.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man

Source: Republic Pictures

When I was in high school, I had running clothes provided to me by the school and by my parents. Although my shoes were lousy cheap K-Mart sneakers, they were, in fact, running shoes. From the summer of 1979, when I started to run for cross country until October of 1983, I had about a dozen or so classmates I could run with, even had to run with. For the first two years or so, I lived only half a block from the course of the Lodi Sweet Corn Festival’s Annual 5K run. So running that race was like a morning run for me. The result? At age 17, when I ran my last race, I was 6’1″, what I am now, and 152 pounds. I looked good, felt great, and had stamina to spare.

Fast forward to 2012. One of the advantages of marrying Marylin Monr- er, um Nita – is that we ate well. For a long time, we ate out a lot, and when we didn’t, we ate good at home.  We still do. But some time during the intervening years, I ballooned up to 305 pounds. I had, in about 2 decades, gained an entire high school senior. I’d managed to get back down into the 270’s at one point, but I didn’t stay there.

Thankfully, I never got above 300 again, though I came close. Last year, I decided to do something about it. I got myself back down to the mid-270’s through diet and exercise and have stayed there pretty much since then. But it’s not enough.

I’m a 45-year-old man with high blood pressure, type-II diabetes, and cholesterol. All of these can be traced back to a single cause: I’m still fat. So simply not snacking and playing with the workout band twice a week isn’t going to cut it. I have to do more. Time to get to running.

I’d love to tell you my first night, I went out and ran a mile, got winded, but never felt better in my life. And I could tell you that. You’d have no clue I was lying. Instead, I decided to work into it. I found an online program that eases you into running 30 minutes a day three times a week. Day 1 involved walking for six minutes, then jogging for one minute, then back to walking. Yes, that was very doable, and yes, I felt good. But…

The start of this program coincided with the discovery of a pair of New Balance cross trainers I found in my closet that had been buried for four years. So, instead of waltzing into Bob Ronker’s Running Spot in mid-April with $120 and spending an hour going over a running plan with my purchase, I suddenly had shoes and no excuse. I hopped online and found this particular running plan. I had the shoes. I even had a shorts I could wear. However, this is February in Ohio. I needed sweats. And the sweats I have no longer have elastic in the or a drawstring. I spent my first workout with the waistband of my sweats clenched in my fist and thanking God I wore boxers in case of a wardrobe malfunction.

I looked like a dork.

I don’t care how I look when I run. I’m not doing it to show off or gain anyone’s approval, except maybe my doctor’s. (And he’s paid to tell me “Thou art healthy” when only I’m doing something right.) I’m only interested in dropping my pulse rate, my weight, and my cholesterol. My blood sugar and blood pressure, not to mention my rather irritable liver (another downside to being a fat ass) will follow. Do it long enough, and I can climb into bed without having to strap on what I call “the Darth Vader mask” to keep from snoring.

I’m not hoping to accomplish anything more with this than to get healthier. My goal, when I turned 40 (shortly after I shed some of that 305 pounds that damn near killed me), was to be healthier at 50 than I was at 40. I think I’m on a good start. I’m flirting with dropping below 270 pounds for the first time in a decade. Back then, 270 was something of a magic number for me. At 270, my blood sugar plummeted to normal levels, I didn’t show signs of an angry liver, and my blood pressure was quite manageable. (It still is, but I want to lose the number of pills I’m taking.)

Down the road, however, I have two goals I want to reach: I want to run the annual Flying Pig Marathon, and I want to bike the entire length of the Little Miami Trail, starting in Yellow Springs and ending…

Well, by fifty, I can bike all the way down to Newport, Kentucky, and celebrate with dinner on the Levee. The trail will be finished by then.