Leora’s Story: How I Started Running

I’m thrilled to introduce Leora Gregory, a longtime friend, as my first guest poster. A lover of the outdoors, she runs, hikes, skis, and climbs mountains, and has traveled all over the world, including a recent kayaking trip in Antarctica. Her habit of running 3 to 5 miles a day during a visit a few years ago was one of my motivations to start running. In this post, she describes how she began running, and why she’s kept at it so many years. Enjoy!

I have always wandered in the woods and fields, walking when others would ride, biking when others would drive. When I worked in New Jersey, I would go for a brisk walk with some co-workers during lunch hour. We would see runners on the same routes that we were walking, and we thought they were ambitious. I went hiking on the weekend. I remember a hike of 3 miles to some destination seemed very rigorous, especially if there was some elevation gain. I also took up inline roller skating.

And then I moved to Oregon. I worked at an industrial park just being set up, and I could skate for miles on paths with a beautiful smooth surface. But I no longer had any skating partners, and I started to hook up with some friends who were running. I would skate with them while they ran, and we would talk. They told me I should start running, and I couldn’t understand why. I would have this wonderful lunchtime skate with great conversations, and they would be working hard and sweating, and therefore have to take a shower and change clothes. Ick!

My running friends persisted and refuted all my excuses, so I finally told them I would join them for a run the next time it rained. Since we were in Oregon, we expected that to be soon, but it was actually several weeks before I first tried out this running thing. It was HORRIBLE. I couldn’t go very far before I had to walk. I was panting. It was not “fun” in the slightest. My friends ran backwards and said they’d never noticed how pretty the area was. But they encouraged me. They told me that rather than stopping and walking, to just run slower. We went about 2 miles, and they encouraged me the entire way, and when we got back to the building, they turned around and went for a run, so that they could get some exercise!

This gave me pause. Here were my friends, just everyday guys, who ran 4 to 5 miles every day, and this little 2-miler that seemed so very, very difficult for me was nothing for them. I bought a pair of Asics running shoes with gel in them. They were lightweight and comfortable. I tried the run again and I was a little better, and my feet were a lot better!

We started to add other runners. Everyone had tips. I met someone who told me she’d been running for 13 years, and I thought, “I want to be someone who can say that.” Another friend told me that many people start running in their 30’s or later, that it was very common. I was 34 at the time. And I’ve now been running for over 18 years!

My running partners are great friends – I’ve learned a lot about them, and they about me. We’ve shared lots of experiences, lots of advice, lots of ups and downs. It’s been great to have running friends at work, because it just becomes what we do. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or we don’t quite feel like going – we depend on going out together, having a good conversation – and so we go.

And running made everything else in my life easier. The workday was easier, hiking was easier, and I seemed to get sick less often; in fact, when I started to feel sick, I would put on a whole bunch of clothes, go for a run and get good and hot, and that sick feeling would completely disappear!

And then I started to climb. But that’s another story. . .

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