RUN, HOUSTON

Fred Faour: You are never too old or too out of shape to take up running as a hobby

Start running and you might see views like this one of AT&T Park in San Francisco. Fred Faour/SportsMap

So yes, technically I am on vacation, celebrating my wife's birthday with a trip to San Francisco. And it is a pretty slow time in Houston sports, so I could easily pass on writing my Monday column and no one would fault me.

Alas, I had some time after recovering from a nice run and thought today's missive would take a different direction.

For the past several years, we have been running (well, in my case jogging or staggering) through 10ks as a way to at least pretend to stay in shape. One of our favorites has been the Run Houston Race series, which features five different runs at five different locations around Houston. It is a cool way to keep your running goals, see some different places in the city and get in a nice run (they do 5ks as well). Two years ago, we did them all. Last year, due to travel conflicts, we missed most of them. This year, we vowed to do them all again.

Then this trip came up and conflicted with Sunday's race at UH-Clear Lake, the third in the series. Of the five, it is probably my second favorite (behind the UH run), in part because I spent a lot of my college life (and all my post-graduate work) at the school, and always had a fondness for the area.

Fortunately, the series now offers a "Virtual Race" option for just such conflicts. In essence, you have to run your sign-up distance three days before or after the actual race day to get credit for running. No offense to Clear Lake, but getting to run along the bay in San Francisco was a bit of an upgrade.

 

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The Bay Bridge. Photo by me.

My path took me from downtown San Francisco to The Embarcadero trail. It was along the water the entire way, and allowed me to get sensational views of the Bay Bridge and perhaps the most unique baseball stadium in the country, AT&T Park. My time was almost record slow, but it was hard to not stop and snap pictures quite often, and my always dodgy knee decided to buckle about 7k in. But I finished it, got credit for the third of the Run Houston races and also managed to take in some amazing scenery. (And pretty sure it was about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Clear Lake today).

I don’t run in these things to try to post fast times (not happening) and I don’t care if I finish last. I do them to have a reason to stay in shape, have some fun and push my aging body. As we get older, some of the things we used to do just aren’t practical (basketball, for instance. I am one snapped knee from six months of rehab, and who has time for that?). I was never much of a runner -- I always needed baskets or goal posts to shoot for -- but I enjoy it now nonetheless.

So if you are thinking of getting started, there are a lot of ways to get going. I started with the C2-5k app, which got me off the couch and started a program of running and walking to build up enough stamina to run a 5k. After about a year of 5ks, we stretched out to 10ks, and have been doing them ever since. At one point I actually ran a half marathon, and eventually would not mind trying another, but I am a long way from that at the moment. Regardless, the point is anyone can get out and run, and you are never too old or out of shape. (It's not like I am in perfect shape). Run Houston has two races left in the fall, (UH and Constellation Field in Sugar Land) and you have plenty time to get up to 5k speed.

Plus, there is no shortage of races for different causes every weekend in Houston. I tend to back off most of the summer races because the heat and humidity is so oppressive, but every now and then one crops up and I try it. (And vow to never again run in August, then sign up for another race two weeks later).

So if you have been looking  to get off the couch, and want to try something that can be fun, has a nice social aspect to it and can help you get in better shape, download the app and get started. You might find you enjoy it.

And before you say there is no way you could do it...I am an old, slightly overweight man with bad knees and health issues. If I can do it, what should stop you from getting started?

Then you can feel better about yourself when you blast past me on a run. 

 

Photo by Wongyulee.

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. Read her blog, HTownRunTourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy

It has been over a week now that we have been ordered to stay home/work safe. Last night, we just found out that we can expect another 30 days of social distancing. It has been quite the adjustment with no end in sight.

But, if you take a couple of deep breaths and look closely, you can see how there is much to be grateful for. Here are the reasons why I have chosen to practice gratitude during the COVID-19 crisis:

Our focus is on the more important things.

Being ordered to stay home and only leave for necessities has made us aware of what is truly important. Making sure that we have steady income that we can do while staying at home and making sure we are safe and our families are safe has taken number one priority.

We have time to take our time and relax.

If you are anything like me, time is a precious commodity. The cause for a lot of anxiety for most of us is not having enough time to do the things we want and definitely not to do what we want to do well. I took all last week to catch up on much needed sleep. It has definitely been nice to take it easy and know that I am doing exactly what I need to do.

We have the time to make our health a priority.

How many times have you wanted to start that workout routine and something came up? How many times have you wanted to meal prep and run out of time? Because our days have less distractions, we have time to go for a walk, run, or bike ride outside. We have time to cook our own food.

We can let petty things go.

If someone has ticked you off or something upsetting happened, you have permission to let it go. Because we really have no way of knowing when and how this crisis will end, it just does not matter. If you find it hard to forget right away, don't worry, you have time to practice.

We have time to read, learn, and take courses.

There are so many podcasts that I listen to in my car, that I would love to sit down and take notes on and really take time to listen to them. I bet there are so many books that you have been meaning to read, but have not been able to start because you are too busy.

We have time to start that big project we have been wanting to start.

Whether it is spring cleaning, organizing the closet, or start writing your business plan, we all have one thing that we always wanted to start but never had the time. I have been working on a blog that I have wanted to start for over a year now. You can check it out. It is called HTownRunTourist. It is about how I got into running and why I started running internationally. It is not your mama's running blog. Although, it is not for everyone, I hope you enjoy it. Post are being released now.

We have the opportunity to start over.

Is there something about your life prior to COVID-19 that you wish you could change? Did you want to practice a habit like being better organized, you have time to do that. Personally, I need to lose some weight. You better believe it is one of my main priorities. Did you want to end toxic relationships? Now, you can. Use COVID-19 as an excuse why you didn't keep in touch and never look back. If it is not important now, it is not important.

So, let's choose relaxation over stress. There is definitely plenty to be grateful for. Let's start this practice so when we can get back to normal, we can hit the ground running!

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