In the spring of 1996 I was a freshman in high school. My school system had required that I run a mile at least once a year since sometime in elementary school and I had never broken the eight minute barrier. In fact, in the fall of 1995 I posted a mile time closer to nine minutes than eight minutes.
Then I went on something called the Zone diet. Mostly I did this because my mother was on the diet and it seemed interesting. I don’t remember the details beyond the fact that breakfast every morning was plain oatmeal, a few peach slices, and Canadian bacon. A salad with slices of ham replaced the traditional sandwich in my lunch bag.
I only lasted 11 days, but the results were dramatic. I dropped 13 pounds and when it came time to run the mile in gym class I sprinted to the finish line in 6:08. The only kid in my class to run faster was a star football player and he finished less than ten seconds in front of me. For a brief moment in time I felt like a runner.
Of course, 1996 was sixteen years ago. After I finished college I flirted with running as a hobby, but convinced myself it wasn’t good for my joints as I watched several athletic friends cope with knee injuries from all the running they did while playing various sports across their youth. Then, later, while experiencing some digestive health issues I was advised by several doctors to stop exercising entirely.
I didn’t like being in that place and this summer things have come full circle. Since largely conquering my gut trouble a little over three years ago, I’ve settled into an everyday diet not all that different from what I remember about the Zone. Then, this spring I read a fabulous book entitled Born to Run. Now, for the first time in my life, I am running just for the sake of running. No one is making me, I’m not training for another sport, I have no idea how fast I’m going, and I typically don’t know the length of my route. I have reengineered my stride such that I land properly on my forefoot rather than striking the ground with my mid-foot or heel and have embraced minimalist footwear. I am loving every minute of it.
There is a freedom that comes with running. When I set out it’s just me, my running attire, and my moustache blowing in the breeze. No cell phone. No identification card. No wallet. No keys. No bags of equipment (I used to be a hockey goalie). No car commute. No potential flat bike tires. No responsibilities. No pressure. No stress. It’s glorious.
That’s why my business partner and I have founded S.O.R.E. (Stressed Out Running Entrepreneurs). Come join us for a run or start a S.O.R.E. chapter in your own city. We are S.O.R.E. because we are self-employed. We are S.O.R.E. because we are mentally agitated and financially challenged by the demands of bureaucrats and professionals alike. We find that it’s far more effective to run in a circle and blow off steam rather than to run away. We are also S.O.R.E. because our feet hurt from running so much. Be warned, though, if we keep up this habit one day we just might convert from members of S.O.R.E. to S.O.A.R. (Serene Owners Actively Running).