Keeler: Ups and downs with running

It’s a love-hate thing. Scratch that. It’s more like a sort-of-like-hate thing. That’s the best way to describe my experiences with running.

I’ve never been an athlete, but running was probably the only sport I could have went out for in high school — and I almost did. I can remember former Strasburg cross country coach and current Handley track coach Mike McKiernan talking to our class in high school about trying out for cross country.

I thought about it, but it simply seemed like too much work. And who really wants to run, especially when you’re in high school? It’s easy enough to do — pretty much anybody can do it. The key is you have to enjoy it, but it just never seemed like fun.

As the years went by, like many people I dabbled with running. I would do it one or two times and then that would be it. Once I became a sports reporter and started covering cross country and track, I had a new appreciation for runners.

Runners run in everything. In cross country, they run through the mud and up and down hills and in the rain and the cold. They run long distances, and they run almost every day. I’ve often thought they must be crazy. I just don’t understand why they would enjoy doing it, especially ones that run marathons — but I certainly respect them.

Recently I’ve decided it’s finally time to lose weight, and I figured I would once again giving running a try.

I used to play tennis regularly and would run a lot in matches, but unfortunately I haven’t played much in the last few years. Of course, that means I haven’t run much in the last few years.

So on my first day of running I decided I would start out easy. I thought I’ll just run 400 meters at a time starting out, and then work my way up. No problem. I made it roughly 300 meters before I was done. OK, you can stop laughing now — so, maybe I’m a little out of shape.

Over the next few days I kept working at it until I was able to run 600 meters without having to stop. I wasn’t ready to run a marathon, but it was progress and it felt somewhat good.

That’s when I realized maybe that’s part of what drives all the runners out there. Just that satisfaction of getting better, getting in better shape. I’m sure it’s what drives most athletes. Being able to push yourself further and further and seeing the progress you make.

I’m already slacking off a little bit. I took some time off on my vacation, but I have started back up and was able to pick up where I left off. I try to get out as early as I can (usually that means right before or after lunch) and head to the track at Massanutten Military Academy to run, or jog, or walk, or crawl around the track. I’ve even done it in some very light rain (does that mean I’m turning crazy)?

I’m not sure how long my latest fling with running will last, but I’ve grown to respect runners even more than before. It takes a lot of dedication and discipline to run on a regular basis (Those are two words I would not use to describe me, and probably while I won’t keep at it). So many runners get up early every day, or pick a time to go out every day and run and they don’t let things like the heat or the cold get in the way.

I can’t say that I find running any more fun than I did before, and I’ll probably eventually just walk the miles instead. However, if there’s one positive that’s come out of it, it’s simply gaining even more respect for runners everywhere who put in the hard work and dedication to being more fit.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com