Joel Solinski's Running Advice:
A bit over 5 years ago, I turned 50 years old. I was overweight, worked in a fairly high stress job and except for golf a dozen times a year leisured as a typical couch potato.
Heart disease ran in the family (father had two heart attacks....one near age of 50) and I was doing nothing to prevent my own. All throughout my 40s I knew I was going to have to start doing something not to follow in my fathers footsteps.......but kept putting it off.....taking every last day i could before i turned 50 to actually do something about it.
On my 50th birthday I decided what I was going to do to change my lifestyle. I knew losing weight was my first priority in this journey and I decided to try to lose 40+ pounds as quickly as possible. I took two primary actions to enact that. First I gave up my problem food ice cream for dessert late at night. I also,and more importantly added in a commitment to walking at least 10K -13K steps a day. The change wasnt all that difficult; just needed to plan for my normal day to day things to take longer.
Made it a point to take extra steps whenever i could. Parked at far end of parking lot to train. Walked to far printer at the office. Took the long way to work from the train station, etc etc.
This went on for about 9 months and over that time I lost most of the weight. I had an app that counted my steps.....and on the day i hit 9,000,000 over a nine month period....I decided I was bored with it. I needed something new to keep me at or improve on my new weight and conditioning.
My daughter Danielle had run half and full marathons before but i never even put a thought to running at all ever. I had seen signs for this local 5 k and that run to raise money but had never thought once about actually doing a formal race. I decided to give it a try......I will probably hate it but i need something new.
One cold March morning I talked my daughter into setting me up so I could try to run a mile. As I think about it now a mile at the time seemed like 1000 miles. I am not in the shape to run a WHOLE mile....what am I thinking. This is crazy. I cant do this.
We walked to the end of the block.....and i slowly ran behind Danielle. (She had the watch on to measure out the mile so needed to be with her.)
12 mins later my lungs felt like they were going to explode. Somehow they didnt.....and thankfully i didnt keel over right there. But I had done it. I proved I could run a mile and live. I convinced myself that wasnt so bad. (Though i wasnt really sure about that). I told myself I will take a day off to think about it and try it again.
Somehow that mile worked too and it was even a little easier I thought.
I decided let me try and improve and go for a whole mile and a quarter. Lived through that next one too.
Danielle then also showed me a runners app. One that tracked my mileage.....but more importantly sent me an email CONGRATULATING ME on how wonderful i was for doing better running (farther/faster/whatever).
Three days later I am running a mile and a half....there’s an email....YOUR AMAZING....LOOK HOW FAR YOU WENT. Couple of days after that another mile and half but 5 seconds faster.....another e-mail YOUR INCREDIBLE LOOK HOW FAST YOU HAVE BECOME. Became addicting. I decided I would enter a 5 k (3.1 miles) 5 weeks later. Thought it would take me that long to “build up”.
(Decided I needed that app for all aspects of my life.....You did the dishes, walked the dog, rooted for your favorite baseball team better today...Your great...keep it up.....that make ego is quite the motivator)
With the ego building app and 3 weeks into it my lungs started to feel like they wouldn’t explode after a mile, it became almost a tolerable thing to do.
Three and a half weeks into the process actually went and ran 5 k distance by myself and only walked a little bit. Was shocked......I ran 3 miles.....I am amazing.....(10 months before I was 240 lbs and barely took 4000 steps a day.)
Couple of weeks later ran the formal 5k and came in 75th percentile......was shocked and quite pleased there could possibly be 25 percent of runners slower than me. I was like wow if I am faster than 25 percent.....I could find a way to be faster than 26 percent.
If I can do a 5K......training up for a 10 K cant be all that hard.......and 5 weeks later I did a 10 K.
I decided then I would try and run a half marathon......and 6 weeks later on my 51st birthday (one year after my big decision) I got up very early and mostly ran 13.1 miles by myself in just under 3 hours. A month later while visiting my son in Detroit I completed a formal half marathon in 2.5 hours.
I thought that was going to be the end of it there. Just go back to normal distances or find something completely new.
But saw that the marathon race Danielle ran had a great deal. If you sign up to run the marathon in Kiawah SC, you could play the Ocean Course (my favorite golf course) for 2/3rds off (over $200 at the time). With that nudge, I was ok lets try for full in December.
And starting in late August slowly built up from about 25 miles per week to over 45 miles per week of training (about 550 overall), I prepped myself for full. Mix of a lot of slow/medium/and a little fast throughout the process. Watched my pace come down more and more....to point of my own disbelief. First mile I ever ran that year was 12 mins. By November, on crisp day I ran two back to back miles in 7:45. &%@&$( 50 years old.
On a beautiful late fall Saturday in Kiawah, SC I lined up in a field of runners of all types. Not positive I could break even 5 hours for the race but had in my head 4:40 timing....and 4:30 as a fantasy if everything breaks right.
4 hours 27 mins and 58 later I finished my first marathon. :) You cant imagine the feeling as Danielle ran out to greet me and go through the finish line together.
Somehow, 6 months later I completed the New Jersey Marathon........ A bit over year after I crawled through a very hot and humid day to complete the New Hampshire Marathon.........Ran my own White Plains marathon the December after that.......and ran through the Gettysburg marathon last April.
After my 5th, I decided would try for 10 by the time I’m 60......6 years and 5 to go.
Now as I am waiting through Corona Virus, I have my next goal in mind.....complete a marathon December of this year......but break the magic 4 hours. I will add to this blog periodically with updates of my progress.
April 29 Update:
Since writing the first part of my running story, my daughter (Danielle) and I have started a pre-training for a new race (when, where and what to be determined).
Have run/walked 8 of the last 10 days, varying short distances at slow, slower and “slowerest” paces. All of the runs have been in our neighborhood carefully avoiding anyone we see within 20 or so feet.
We haven’t run much all year so this is very literally a pre-training for whatever we wind up doing. Running a quarter to half a mile followed by walking a quarter mile and repeat until we finish our morning distance. Runs have varied between 1.5 miles up to almost 4. We are definitely noticing improvement already, picking up length and distance with a bit more ease. Since there has been no pressure on to accomplish much (this many miles at that pace), we are able to relax as we run (talking and solving world problems as we go).
We are hoping to slow build up to 10K distance within couple of weeks.
Attached you can see the “artwork” our runs have been producing lately (unintentional).....but telling. A running "F-U" to coronavirus and all the other stresses life has brought upon us.