I'm a big'un. 6 foot, 270#. (Yeah, I'm seriously built for this). I've always been athletic. I was the catcher for my baseball teams and offensive guard and defensive tackle on my football teams. I could get up a head of steam and clobber somebody into next week as long as it was within twenty or thirty yards of where I launched from. At 46, I can still swim for miles and usually only leave the water because I'm out of time, not out of breath/energy. What I have never been able to do is run. If there is an injury to be had, I've had it. I feel like I've even invented a few. I'm the Little Engine That Could. I'm slow, but I'll be there at the end. At least, that's what I console myself with. Doctors, even the Chief Flight Surgeon of the Navy, have told me to just give it up, I'll never run well, long, or without debilitating pain and injury afterward. Instructors, Coaches and observers have likened my "style" to a galloping Galapagos Tortoise married to an asthmatic diesel locomotive just looking for some YouTube "fail" video to call home.
Did I mention that I'm slow? I time my runs by how many solar eclipses and harmonic convergences that occur...per mile.
I'm in a program right now that is VERY physically demanding. I am consistently the slowest guy on the runs, prompting some colorful commentary from the other "students" and cadre of instructors. I'm older now, and a LOT heavier than I was in my late teens and early twenties, but I SWEAR this is more difficult than boot camp, and/or some of the other physical courses I've been involved in. "Keep UP, Grampa!" "Run Faster, Tubby-tubby!" You get the idea. I've asked everybody I know how to run faster; better. Even the gazelles I know could only advise me to "run faster." My class's physical training instructors (Formerly Bad-ass Spec Ops guys) could only tell me...wait for it..."run faster." In five weeks of training, I've managed to take a whopping (sarcasm) 23 seconds off of my mile and a half time, over-strain my left LCL and pull a hammy. I don't think this is what "faster" is. I had, until yesterday, resigned myself to lumbering through this coarse giving 150% effort for 50% results and NEVER being forced to run again, nor wanting to, for the rest of my life.
Yesterday, that all changed. Scott, one of my class mates (a bonified Gazelle on the track, and only a few years my junior) had told me about a book that he read a while back that changed his running style, and his injury rate. It was called "Born to Run", and Scott explained that the book made the case that ALL of us were born to run. You know, R-U-N, not lumber like an AT-AT on attacking a frozen rebel base...like me. Yesterday, I went to the book store to search-out this lifeline from heaven. I didn't find it. I DID find "The Cool Impossible". To say it resonated with me would be a masterful understatement. I've always known on a visceral level that I'm running wrong. There had to be a "better faster", not just a faster-faster, but...HOW? Last night, I blasted though pearls of wisdom, exercises, forms and "SHAZZAM" insights like a man possessed. Page after page explained everything I had been doing wrong, but even better, explained HOW to do it RIGHT! Now, about two-thirds of the way through the book, I'm convinced that it was written just for me. Time to correct my heel strike, over-stride, bend and lean...I'm sure breathing and cadence will factor in, too.
I still have more to read, and a long road ahead of me (in a good way), but...I think I've found the key to turning what has been completely impossible into my Cool Impossible.
I had to tell somebody!