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I am 68 years old and didn't start running until I was 44. Before then, I was a very inactive person. Even as a kid, I didn't participate in sports, except for the "sandlot" variety. I was an overweight couch potato all of my adult life and a 2-3 pack-a-day smoker from age 16.....until I reached my mid-40's. Then I decided to lose 30 pounds, start exercising and stop smoking....in that order. I thought I had the best chance of keeping the weight off if I lost it and started exercising before I quit smoking.

I spent 2 years losing the 30 pounds through gradual diet modification.....simply smarter eating. Then I joined a fitness center to start an exercise program where I was put me on a weight training regimen with a 1/4 warmup jog on a 24 lap per mile indoor track. I noticed a young lady who would run around the track for an hour at a time several times a week and seem to enjoy every minute. I decided that if she could do that, so could I. So, I added another 1/4 mile jog to the end of my workout, and then started extending it each time I worked out.

One day I got my post-workout run to 2 miles and it was great.....the first time I didn't have to stop when I did. It was like breaking through a barrier and finding something wonderful on the other side. That was the moment I became a runner.

I continued to run after that and have finished 202 road races, including 21 marathons, split between two "serious" running periods (1983-90 and 1997- 2000). During the 7 years between these running "lives", I continued to run, but at greatly reduced mileage and no racing or serious training. I got away from running again during 2000-2005 because my wife and I got into sailing, bought a sailboat, and spent half of each year living aboard and cruising the Florida Keys and Bahamas. We sold the sailboat in 2005 after she had knee surgery and could no longer live aboard. I started my third running life in Jauuary, 2006. But a nagging knee problem....the first such problem I have had in almost 25,000 miles logged....has been holding me back. 

Overall, running has been a major part of my life for 23 years and, hopefully, will continue to be for the rest of my life. When in peak running condition, I was 45 pounds lighter than I was in 1980 when I made my decision to change my physical life. My at rest pulse rate dropped from 72 to the upper 30's. My stamina increased greatly. And I am a more relaxed and less stressed person.

I am convinced that running has greatly improved the quality of my life and, probably, reduced my risk of a premature death from potential health related problems.

I have also derived many psychological benefits from running. Though not every run is a "pleasure", many are fun and very relaxing. More importantly, running provides me with a positive sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It has been great for my self-esteem. I know that I can challenge myself and win. Also, when I am in peak running shape, I can challenge others in my age group, as well as some a lot younger than I, and win.

I think running greatly benefits the body, mind and spirit. My only regret is that I didn't start at a much younger age and run all my life, instead of just what will hopefully turn out to be the last half of it.