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Commentary: FOG Chronicles' Epiphanies

By Richard Hubbard

Buffalo, NY – The Date: June, 2004

The place, Elmwood Avenue, outside of Fleet Feet sports.

The online American Heritage dictionary gives a secondary meaning of the word "epiphany" as "a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization."

This is otherwise known as the "eureka" moment.

You wouldn't think that there is such a thing as an "epiphany" when it comes to running. But I've had two.

The first thing to understand is that I never really liked running. When I was an athlete in my younger years, I ran when I had to, but avoided it whenever I could. In college, we had to perform a measured amount of aerobic exercise on a weekly basis in order to get credit for our Physical Education class. I played rugby, basketball or would swim, but I avoided running unless it was the last day of the week to get the activity done. I would do the absolute minimum, and then try to go for another week without running while still earning the points.

As a middle aged person looking to be fit, I would run only because it burned more calories than any other 20 minute activity I could perform.

But when I decided to run a marathon, I understood that I would need to run for longer than 20 minutes. My first epiphany came when, during a slow time at the fitness center, I managed to get on the treadmill for an hour straight. I wasn't running hard, but I was doing a nice easy jog. I stayed on for an hour. Thus all of the lectures about aerobic exercise finally hit me personally. If I paced myself correctly, I could go for an hour, or maybe even more, as long as I didn't outrun the amount of oxygen I was taking in.

Wow. This was my first inkling that I might be able to run a marathon. I would still need to condition myself to run much longer, but the possibility was there.

The second epiphany came early in June. I was running with the crew from Fleet Feet Sports. And I was able to keep up with some members of the group in a five-mile run. Sure, they were taking it very easy, and I was pushing as hard as I could, but I still was able to keep the other runners in sight, and even have a little kick at the end.

And at that point, I discovered that I actually like to run. I enjoyed the run itself. Without worrying about what I was training for, I could have fun just ...running....

But running by myself has drawbacks. I am still kind of lost when it comes to exactly how to train for the race. How much should I run? Am I running enough? Am I pushing too hard. How can I get faster, stronger? So that I don't 'just run' the marathon, but I do the best I possibly can? So I'm joining a marathon-training group led by University at Buffalo's Cross Country Coach, Vicki Mitchell.

Will this help?

I'll let you know, how it goes.

With the FOG Chronicles, I'm Richard Hubbard.