Since I have running blog, I have a moral obligation to publish a snappy list of clever tips guaranteed to catapult all three of my faithful readers toward their running goals. You know what I mean – a rapid fire compilation of strategies to bring out the very best in performance and enjoyment while on the running trail. Given that I have no expertise, training, or relevant credentials related to running or endurance sports, I am, according to popular convention, fully qualified to present just such a list! This time, I’ll focus on my own cohort, veteran male runners – those guys who have reached that certain age and are still giving it there all. Here goes!
- No Pain, No Gain…..Hey, take it from this 51 year-old guy, unless it seriously pains other people to see you running, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Whether it’s a 5K or a marathon, when out there, groan a lot and maintain an anguished expression. Carry yourself with the comportment of Charleton Heston when he was captured and beaten by the apes. Highlight those parts of your body that make others cringe. For example, if you’ve got knees that look like fossilized mastodon bones, work those joints back and forth at the start line while moaning. You might even consider crying a little, as the site of a grown man crying during exercise helps everyone have a good time.
Build Community…..Before and after races, freely share personal information with the people around you, especially young adults otherwise having fun with their friends. Often, the best ice breaker is recounting why you began running in the first place: the growing awareness of impending chronic illness and an eventual slow, agonizing death. Other fun ice breakers include current events, especially political news viewed on Fox and MSNBC. If you’re really at a loss for words, simply pivot to the tried-and-true topic of the increasing difficulty establishing a solid urine stream before a big run. Gentlemen, our sparkling conversation skills are our gift to fellow runners; they deserve to hear our wit and wisdom! Not only do our contributions help build community, it reminds younger folks of what they can look forward to during their own sunset years.
- Dress Properly…..Men, we know what running gear makes us most comfortable, and, frankly, that’s what we should be wearing when we’re out there. First, your super short shorts from the ’70’s are not only liberating, they are of historical significance. Like a Civil War reenactor, you are providing an important public service by modeling this apparel for the younger generation. You can be sure that this is why people stare at you in wonderment when you lope past. Likewise, those knee-high tube socks and terry cloth sweat bands not only look cool, they provide opportunity to introduce the history of all-timegreats, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to the younger set. Finally, because we get frugal with age and just generally care less, we are not washing the running gear as often as most folks and, hey, that’s saves natural resources. So, if your vintage running shirt is a bit stained and, well, aromatic, no problem! When you’re in close quarters with others at the start line on race day, they will thank you for your good stewardship of Mother Earth.
- Be the Change You Want to See…..Finally, gentlemen, like Gandhi, we have opportunity to set a tone of positivity and peace in our local running communities. When blocking access to the hydration station during a 5K by standing in place to look at your flip phone, smile and wish others well. When stuffing your duffle bag with extra post-race food so that you have snacks later, offer to help others do the same. When you barricade yourself in the porta-john for an hour, only to emerge immediately prior to the National Anthem, stand at attention, straight and tall. If you see a runner go down during a difficult trail marathon, be sure to step around her carefully as you go on your way, so as not to cause additional injury. Let’s be great examples for our running communities!
Remember, if nothing else, people enjoy seeing others fail miserably; it makes them feel better about themselves. And, as we get older, gentlemen, this is a key way that we can give back to the running community. I hope these tips add enjoyment to your running, as well as to those around you, and I’ll see you on the trail!