Why I Run?
Running: A Pharmacist’s Intervention Into 26.2
Having been a sprinter and jumper in my younger years, I had always groaned at the thought of running anything more than a few miles. I had been dubbed to have predominantly type I fast twitch muscle fibers. My “genetic destiny” wouldn’t lend well toward success at endurance sports.
Sure, I enjoyed getting out a couple times a week for a slow jog after a challenging day at school or work, but I never made a true commitment to long distance running. The thought of running a distance race was the farthest thing from my mind. I mean, why would I? I was a sprinter. As I’d learned on the track team, sprinters and distance runners treated each other like the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Flash forward to my third decade of life: change itself had become the only constant. The usual stressors and responsibilities of adulthood had come to a head, yet the mental and physical benefits of my sprinting days were long gone. I realized I missed the introspection, focus, and clear mind that only running could provide.
And then it happened. In one year, two family members died from cerebral vascular accidents (CVA) or strokes, and yet another family member had a trans-ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. As a pharmacist, I was acutely aware of the detrimental effects of high blood pressure. I knew many family members had high blood pressure and were on medications. Questions about drug interaction became a popular discussion topic at family gatherings. Sooner or later, someone would ask, “I just got put on drug X” or “can I take drug A with drug B”. This is par for the course when there is health care provider in the family.
Losing loved ones clearly affected me, but at the same time I didn’t think hypertension or high blood pressure could effect me. I was young, ate healthy foods, wasn’t over weight, and went to the gym. But boy, was I wrong. By coincidence or divine intervention, I went in for a run of the mill medical check-up. The unexpected result? Pre-hypertension. If this diagnosis was my “genetic destiny”, the time had come to change it.
I decided to sign up for a 10K: my first ever endurance race. I only had a chance to train for a couple of weeks before race day, but was determined to run well and finish strong. Though this ex-sprinter started the race way too fast and ran out of gas, I became immediately addicted to distance running. A few days later, I signed up for another 10K, but this time around I gave myself an appropriate time to train. I read up on 10K race tactics, followed a specific training plan, and ended up knocking almost 7 minutes off of my first 10K time. With increased stamina and confidence, I completed three half marathons. With 6 months under my belt as a dedicated distance runner, a couple 10K’s, and a few half marathons, I made the decision to go “full crazy” and registered for my first 26.2: the KBVCM! I’m looking forward to race day as much as anyone, but the real rewards have come with the journey of training. I’m no longer at risk for pre-hypertension, and the mental clarity and peace I once enjoyed through sprinting has returned ten-fold. Though I’ll always be a sprinter at heart, this Hatfield may have a little McCoy in him after all.