Friday, November 7, 2014


We come from good stock.

Early man was a runner. He had to be. He followed the big game animals and sometimes was forced to run from them. And in an uncivilized, lawless world, he often ran from hostile human predators.

Ancient man didn't have a choice when it came to running, but we do.

In an increasingly unhealthy, obese world, we have chosen to seek out the healthy path and to run on it.

On various running sites, and on social media, I read sad stories from folks who are, or at least feel they are, criticized because they don't "Look like a runner."

Nothing infuriates me more.

Here's the deal.

You lace up the shoes and you hit the roads, trails, track, or treadmill, and you ARE a runner!

Male or female, any age, and any size, fast or slow, or despite a disability, it doesn't make a difference. You are a runner and you should be proud of it.

What we do takes guts. Ours is not a hidden, sanitized endeavor. We are not tucked away on a golf course, on a tennis court, or in a gym. We are out there, exposed for all to see, and for all to take shots at us, because, indeed we are still a minority.

"You looked bad out there today."

"Are you still running?"

"You're crazy?"

"You're gonna ruin your knees."

"You're gonna freeze your lungs."

These are some of the inane questions we all endure.

I was once asked by a fairly intelligent individual, "How'd you do at Boston?"

"I placed 123rd," was my reply.

"Don't worry, you'll do better next year," he assured me.

That's why I wrote my latest book, "Personal Best."

As runners, I believe we CAN make each day our personal best.

No, it doesn't always mean we have to run our fastest times. It doesn't even mean we have to "look" like runners.

A 15-month recovery period from two torn hamstring tendons reduced me to looking more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame on my daily workouts rather than a runner out there, but each day of improvement became a personal best for me.

In the chapter entitled "Extraordinary," in "Personal Best," three runners tell their stories of courage.

Two of the individuals could never have envisioned themselves as runners who could cover 26.2 miles in three hours or so, but today they can.

Run fast or slow. Run on the roads, run on the trails. Run for hours on the treadmill, if necessary. Run early in the morning, or lit up like a Christmas tree at night. Run if you're skinny, run if you're fat (because you won't be for long) Run for yourself, for your loved ones, or a worthy cause. Run in all kinds of weather. Run when it's acceptable and even when it's not. Run in big races or small ones. Run to win, run to finish, run in the front, middle or the back of the pack. Run with your friends or run alone.

What a magnificent gift we have discovered. We put one foot in front of the other and we answer to no one. We see and become part of this beautiful world in a way few will ever realize. We run to be free. We run because, in running, there are no rules.

And when we do, when we hit the watch, sweaty and tired, we are thankful for today and we realize that, simply because we can do it again tomorrow and for years to come, that our best running days do, indeed, lie ahead.