I wasn’t much into sports. I grew up training to become a ballerina and, after I stopped, I wasn’t into taking on any kind of sport in high school.
One day I decided that I wanted to become a wildland firefighter. I was drawn to the danger, excitement and the forced camping all summer. I had worked in physical-labor type jobs up to that point so I figured “how hard could it be?”.
Even though I had been warned, I didn’t really understand that my job would entail running 3 – 5 miles a day on a team led by a former Marine. Everything hurt, it sucked, and I hated it. I made it through the summer though and even went back for a second.
During the school year between the first summer and the second, something started to happen. I actually missed running. I started running on occasion to get my “suffer fest” fix. It wasn’t the running itself I enjoyed – it mostly sucks while you are doing it – but the rush of endorphins and feeling of getting stronger I felt afterward.
After I graduated college and was looking for a job, I had a lot of time on my hands. I started to run a little more. That is when my roommate got a puppy. I wanted a dog so bad – a Rhodesian Ridgeback to be exact. My roommate’s job changed and she had to go out of town for work often. I offered to take care of her dog for her as kind of a “trial dog” (eventually he just became mine).
Even though it was a Dachshund, I made him my running buddy when he got old enough. It turns out he liked it. Chester helped me train for my first (well, only) marathon. He did the 3 – 5 mile short training runs with me in between my weekend long-distance runs.
I ran a couple of half marathons and completed my first marathon in 2004. Then I injured my back.
I recovered for a while and ran some but then I developed chronic back pain and my knees got worse. I never ran as much again and completely swore of it a couple of years ago to save my back and knees for hiking. I was kind of bitter about it though. I envied all of the runners I saw. Eventually I made peace with my decision and started living vicariously through others to get my fix.
One day I was reading one of my favorite “active” blogs – Just Colorado Gal – and discovered these weird looking shoes by a company called Hoka One One. At the time I swore of running, barefoot running in minimalist shoes were all of the rage. During the time I was burying my head in the sand about running, a new shoe technology took over the market. Maximalist shoes swung things the other way… kind of. Maximalist shoes borrow the “barefoot technology” of zero, or near zero, drop from heel to toe. However, the thin, barely padded sole of the shoe was replaced with approximately 2 inches of cushy rubber.
From what I understand, Hoka One One shoes, with their engineered midsole volume which is up to 2.5X the volume than standard running shoes, pretty much started the maximalist trend. They were created for marathoners and ultra-runners to help lessen the impact on joints and muscles. I did a little more research on these shoes and thought maybe, just maybe, they would allow me to do a little running again. I rushed out and bought a pair and can say that, for the first time in almost 3 years, I have been able to jog a little with minimal pain. Hallelujah!
I decided that I would train to run a 5k. Chester is too old to run with me now but Gretel has pretty much limitless energy. I found a Pooch to 5k training program that will get both Gretel and I in running shape the right way – slowly.
I started out with even less running than it suggests. We did a week alternating 30 second jogs with 90 minute walks and a second week doing 30 second jogs with 60 second walks. This morning we graduated to the first step in the program, alternating 60 seconds of gentle jogging with 90 seconds of walking.
I am still very much interested in saving my knees and back for hiking. If the running becomes too much for me, I will stop again. I have already started dealing with a new knee problem but the issue occurs after I have been hiking, not running, at this point. Gretel and I have big plans this summer (I’ll unveil our plans soon) that we really need to be in shape for so I hope the Hoka One One shoes can keep me running when I can’t get out of the city for a hike.