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More Perspectives from the Finish Line by Jim Braden, 8-2017

Two years ago, as a runner approaching my 80th birthday, I posted an article, Perspectives from the Finish Line

Here are a few more Perspectives:

All I Ever Learned about Running I learned by Just Doin’ It

As a rookie runner, in my late 30’s, I read everything and everyone. My favorites were in the category of ‘why run’, Dr George Sheehan (RW), Ken Cooper (Aerobics),, rather than the other category of ‘how to run better’. I was highly motivated to obtain the benefits of the sport. The ‘how to’ sources basically reinforced the notion that, unlike the young elite heart-lung machines on legs, the rest of us are clearly on our own to do our best. I was a mess for a while, pushing too soon too hard, just doin’ it. Be your own coach. Turns out, I rapidly made all the usual/necessary mistakes, thereby climbing the learning curve more quickly.
50+ years ago, Nike was just getting started, promoting “Just Do it”. Still works for me.

We are all equal

If you enter events, admit it: you are a competitive runner. Yes, you are! We all are, by nature. You want to know more about how you measure up against your own expectations, and against other runners. Look around you in the que at the start of the event. Wow, so many differences among us! Tall and short, thick and thin, young and old. As a wise man once observed “we are each an experiment of one”. However, those differences disappear once the race begins. There are no “better” runners. Faster runners, and slower runners, for sure. However, we are all equal when we each are doing our best.

Real Runners don’t walk

Yes, we do. There are times, especially for older runners in longer events, when we MUST walk. No, we didn’t want to. (Well, maybe!) We had to. Our central controller, our brain, recognized that we were over extended and reduced the power output to avoid problems. This is good. You will finish this event if you manage the run better into the finish. In only a few breaths, while power walking, both your heart rate and breathing rates will re-center. Take advantage of it for at least 5 breaths. But not more than ten breaths. Then re-engage, even if you must walk again soon. This drill will enable you to squeeze every minute out of the event.
Caution: When you must walk, it suddenly feels so good. It’s a trap! Avoid it. Stay with the 5 – 10 breath rule. Or, your own, say, 10 – 20 breath rule. Just do it. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”


There are two kinds of running awards, extrinsic awards, and intrinsic awards. Extrinsic awards are the showy stuff, plaques, trophy’s, medals, ribbons, clothing, equipment, certificates, They confirm and announce your accomplishments, and are to be cherished.
The greater awards are the intrinsic ones, the lasting self- satisfaction of having worked hard to meet challenges you had set for yourself. You have elevated the level of your physical and mental performance and, having achieved this higher level, you are reluctant to let it go. So you stay in the game, maintaining events on your calendar to provide a focus for your weekly training. The reward is better health, longer. There is dignity in this weekly work, leveraging your running to improve the outlook on your future well-being.

Why run?

I , and others with me, were recently asked, “Why do you run?” Without hesitation, I snapped: “Because I (still) can!” The conversation moved on. Upon subsequent reflection, there are other reasons I could have mentioned. My dear wife, of >50 years of marriage, herself once a runner, has moved beyond support for me, now quiet tolerance and understanding. ‘You, I tell her, are a primary reason I continue to run’. I want to save her from the awful burden of being a caregiver for an Alzheimer patient. My father had it. I have been part of a worldwide Alzheimer Neural Imaging Study for more than 10 years. Annually, at Baylor, I take short term memory tests, give blood and occasional spinal taps, and have MRI and PET scans. There is no cure. There are a few meds claiming to retard the rate of descent into oblivion. Prevention? No, but one of the first things mentioned in the literature – for so many afflictions – is ‘consistent moderate exercise’. What exercise is more efficient, calories per unit time, than running?! We each have our reasons to run. And, keep running.

Jim Braden

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