Sometimes plans have to be changed.  While slowing making my way through a five mile run early yesterday afternoon, I began questioning just what I was doing.  Even though the groin only felt mildly uncomfortable at a agonizingly slow pace of almost 11:00 a mile, I quickly realized that to run faster would be to risk further, and perhaps greater injury.  So I accepted the consequences of the setback and continued to run at the easy pace.  After completing the run, or jog seems more appropriate, I walked the final 1.6 to achieve my 6.6 mile goal for the fourth day of May.  With twenty-seven more days remaining in my birthday month, I’m really not sure it’s worth the risk of a more serious injury to continue with the probably ill-conceived goal.  Maybe the best, and by far smartest decision, will be to rest a little and then continue running when the affected area feels better.

As I ponder the options, I’m reminded of my younger days when buddies and I differentiated running from jogging by pace.  I remember an article in a running magazine that defined running as any pace under 8:00 minutes per mile and jogging as over 8:00 per mile.  At a time when I rarely trained even over 7:30 a mile, this definition seemed about right.  8:00 and slower miles were meant as “cool-downs” after more serious training.  That was then; this is now:  my 9:00 pace seems “fast” for this almost sixty-six year-old.

Speaking of pace from my very serious training days, I recently found a chart I had included in one of my running journals that I have kept since 1980.  I had penned two columns.  In one there were the words: Run/effort and in the other: pace.  As odd as it may sound, I can still see myself running at the sub-6:00 pace, just like I can see myself sinking fifteen-foot jump shots and hitting forehands with accuracy to the back corner of the court.  Unfortunately, we age.  Just like my basketball and tennis talents faded years ago, now so has my running pace.  I’m not begrudging; in fact, I think I’ve accepted the aging process as it relates to the sport I love.  I keep reminding myself that I’m fortunate to still be running at any pace.  

Like I often stated in my journal when hiking the Appalachian Trail, I believe things happen for a reason.  Maybe I was supposed to have a minor set-back at this point in time.  My wife and I will be traveling up to New York tomorrow to visit our daughter.  I had looked forward to a run in Central Park one morning and another along the Hudson River.  I’ve run in both places on several other occasions, so maybe I just need to enjoy time with family and appreciate walking throughout the City.  Not having to pack running clothes will also lighten my suitcase slightly.  I’m obviously looking for any positives in an otherwise negative circumstance.  There will be other times to run in New York.

So today I’ll walk.  And I won’t worry about distance.  I’ll do the same over the next few days, or maybe rest entirely, if need be, after the trip.  Whether I cover 6.6 miles any of the next few days won’t really matter that much in the big realm of things.  What will matter is that one day soon I’ll be running again.  And hopefully, I’ll be running “fast,” at least by my definition as an “older runner.”  There are days to run for years to come.  I just have to take my running days like all days in general, one day at a time.  

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