The Running Bookworm

The Dreaded Bathroom Scale

The dreaded bathroom scale kept inching its way upward, pound by pound. It wasn’t supposed to do that, not when I was walking two or three miles five or six days a week. “Briskly“, as my doctor ordered. Once it hit 210 I knew I had to do something drastic and push my fitness routine up a notch.

On the day the scale hit 210 I started running. After warming up for about a block I started jogging at a fairly slow pace. By the end of the block I was wheezing and gasping for breath. And that was on the short end of the block. I was in worse shape than I thought!

Memories of running laps in middle school filled my head. I was the scrawny guy lagging the pack, behind even the chubby guys. I never learned the basic fact that you have to push yourself a little bit more every day. That nugget of wisdom came later.  I wouldn’t give up. Not if I want to live long enough to dance at my daughter’s wedding.

As I walked to the end of the next block to catch my breath I remembered something I’d read in my Dad’s old Boy Scouts of America, Official Handbook for Boys.

I remembered reading a chapter about alternating running and walking. Walk one hundred paces, then run one hundred paces, then repeat. Or was it a thousand paces? I mentally gave myself permission to take walk breaks and started running intervals.  I didn’t even know what intervals were. That first day in December 2009 I ran six half block intervals during my regular two mile walk.

After about a week of this a book review caught my eye. I can’t recall the magazine, but the book review was for Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Something caught my eye. “His feet hurt”. I was captivated by the article. I immediately went to the County of Los Angeles Library online catalog to put a hold on this book. There were 18 copies in the county library system, but it still took six months for my hold to come in. I have to vote Born to Run as the best book I read in 2010.

I couldn’t wait so I stopped by the Redondo Beach Public Library to check out some back issues of Runner’s World Magazine. I also did some searching online and found’s Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan (C25K). This is an incremental interval training program that gets you up from the couch to running a 5K race in nine weeks.

I followed the link on and downloaded one of the free iPod apps and started the program. With time off for a cold, shin splints and other issues, it took me 16 weeks to finish the program.  And I’m a runner now!

I’d love to hear from you.  Do you run?  What got you started?  What was the best book you read in 2010?


5 thoughts on “The Running Bookworm

  1. I had the same question about ICTC, but also figured it out, that she meant to capture it in writing. I love that it opens with her writing in a kitchen sink. I also love when the kids lock the dad up in the tower and lower food and other staples down to him so he gets cured of his stubborn writer’s block. I wish someone would do that for me. 🙂

    Also, I noticed that your book links are to Powell’s and was wondering why Powell’s instead of Amazon or [fill in the blank.] The reason I ask is that Powell’s is like one of my favorite places on earth, and I’m lucky enough to live in Portland.

    • . . In my second blog post I explain why I’m not an affiliate anymore. Not by my choice. cut off all of their CA affiliates just to spite the new sales tax law that would force them to collect tax on sales by CA affiliates. Amazon took exception to Gov. Brown’s strategy for solving the budget crisis which mainly targets Amazon as the biggest out of state retailer.

  2. I used to run 4-6 days a week, slowly progressing to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, miles per day. My first 10-mile run was on September 10, 2001. I remember being so traumatized the next day by 911 that I literally couldn’t get motivated to run for nearly a year. When I finally did start again my left knee began to swell and seriously hurt, then my right knee, so I had to quit for these past nine years. I was devastated. I won’t bore you with details, but I finally got back to gentle walk/jog sessions similar to those you describe. I’ve tried to use online and Runner’s World training schedules, but the progress is always too rapid in too short a time for me and my knees began to bother me again. So now I listen to my body and go at my own pace.

    There’s nothing, NOTHING like running, and I’m so happy to be back at it (sort of) again. Best book I read in 2010? I start lots of fiction books but never finish them (I’m talking reading them AND writing them). I DID finish Dodie Smith’s “I Capture the Castle,” which was excellent.

    • A couple of years ago I read all the way through I Capture the Castle and couldn’t figure out how she was going to “capture” the castle. Of course I was thinking like a typical guy, thinking about storming the ramparts with a sword in my teeth. It was a great story though. I especially liked the bit about her Dad and his puzzles.

      Then in January I started reading it again and it struck me. She’s a writer. That’s how she is trying to capture the castle. She wants to capture every detail. I started re-reading several classics this year and got stuck somewhere in the middle of all of them. Too many distractions.

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