This is it. I officially begin my training for May’s Indianapolis Mini Marathon today. Technically I began yesterday, with a strength and stretch day.1 And I’ve been on the treadmill consistently for three months now, although never pushing the distance since running on treadmills sucks.

But today is my first official run. A modest three-miler, but the first three miles of many that will make up my training for the 13.1 miles I plan to run on May 7.

I’m very excited to be starting. I’ve taken a couple other half-assed cracks at training programs since I ran a marathon in 2001, but always began them half-heartedly and quickly gave up. This time, I’m excited about the process and looking forward to, once again, becoming a true runner.

I also begin my training with the sober understanding that I’m getting older. I knew I had put on a few pounds over the past couple years, but when I visited my doctor for a physical over the holidays, I was a little shocked by what the scales said. I had felt my jeans tighten up and saw more flab than I was used to when I took a shower. But still, to hear that I weighed more than I had ever weighed, by a good 10 lbs., hit home pretty hard. At my doctor they weigh you on the way back to the exam room, and only ask you to remove your shoes. When he read off the weight the nurse had put into my chart, I almost demanded that we go back and do it again with all my clothes off. 2

We had already signed up for the Mini before my visit, and I viewed it as a standard get back into shape project. It remains that, but now has the added element of helping me drop some pounds.

I know to some of you that sounds easy. “You’re going to be running 3-4 times a week, working out on a couple of those other days. Surely the pounds will melt off, right?”

I wish it was that easy. Ten years ago, during my six-month training for the Chicago Marathon, I managed to hold the exact same weight from beginning to end. I ate a lot to begin with, and whatever extra calories I was burning were apparently off-set by the additional food I was shoveling in after long runs, the endless energy bars and gels that kept me going, and lots of Gatorade. Now, a decade later, when my metabolism has obviously slowed down, it will take extra discipline to get closer to the weight I’d like to be at.

But that’s all secondary. The important thing is I want to be in great running shape on May 7 and enjoy the run. Oh, and I get to buy some new gear along with way, which is always a fun side-benefit to training.3

  1. If you’ve never run before and are thinking about it, I can’t recommend Hal Higdon’s site enough. He offers many levels of training for all distances that will help you train smartly, stay healthy, and be ready for race day. 
  2. Well, most of them. My physician is a Med-Peds doc, and sees more kids than adults, based on the décor of his exam rooms. No need to scare the kids. 
  3. New shoes are a must. Some new running shirts and shorts. I already got a new iPod Nano because my old iPod Shuffle couldn’t track time and held either podcasts or music but not both. Essentials.