The Lesson: Moderation in all things
First, the approach: about a year ago I read some research indicating that marathon running may not be that great for your body, long term.
The specifics: the value of running more than 40 minutes a day is not that clear. And, conversely, the value of interval training is relatively apparent.
So, for the past year, I've been running 30-40 minutes a day, largely intervals of 200 to 1,200 yards with 30 to 60 seconds of jogging between intervals.
During that time, my speed has increased, my 5K times have come down significantly and my weight has been relatively stable. In addition, my weight training efforts have been fairly successful, and I've continued to gain strength.
Perhaps most gratifying of all is that people have haven't seen me for awhile say I look "fit," not something a lot of people say to someone who is 64.
So, I guess physically, this regimen has been a success.
I'm pretty sure the same cannot be said for the impact of this routine, spiritually. It's true that I go into work each day with a high level of energy, mental and physical.
But that spiritual connection that drove me to create this blog simply hasn't been there. That's simply not going to cut it.
There's something that's incredibly hard to describe that happens when I run. I feel in tune with the world, with the universe. I feel lighter than air. And the crisis du jour seems to evaporate.
I suspect many other runners feel the same way. No, they don't talk about it. They don't have to. You can see it in them. In the way they move, the way they interact with others. The way they live their lives.
I have missed that for the last year. And while I don't want to lose some of the hard-earned gains in speed and strength, I am now experimenting with ways to return to the spiritual path.
My first goal will be to run in the mornings for about 40 minutes, almost every day. Once or twice a week, I will go to the gym.
And once or twice a week, I will run some intervals, just to stay sharp. Maybe in the evening. Maybe as part of a morning run. We'll see.
Because I'm seeing that I will miss the spiritual value of running by running too fast. And by running too long. As in all things, moderation is key.