Nike waffle trainers and the start of running

I had lunch with someone yesterday who asked me when I started running. It’s hard to believe, but I first hit the pavement in the seventh grade. Not because I had some innate  talent for the sport, and not because my mom took a hint from Andre Agassi’s parents and pushed me to excel. (In fact, my mom wasn’t much of an athlete, so I doubt she thought I would be either). I actually started running because my seventh grade history teacher, Jim Frost, was also the track coach. He was always crafting sales pitches for his students to “go out and run,” though I don’t think he expected anyone to take him seriously. I also think he was surprised one day when I shyly told him I’d taken him up on his advice. So my running progressed from three miles to six-seven miles. Then, during the summer between my seventh and eighth grades, I joined a group of folks (mostly older kids than I) who went over to his house each evening to run. All I can remember is how incredibly hot and humid it was! And I remember when I bought a pair of these bright yellow, bulky new shoes called waffle trainers, made by a new company called Nike. I think the shoes were bigger than I was, and they looked something like this:

And though I was quite disciplined and dedicated, I wasn’t ever that good. 7:00 miles was probably the fastest pace I ever clipped in a in a 10K road race. I ran cross country in the fall and competed in the mile during spring track season. I wasn’t the worst person on the field or track, but I was never very competitive, either. Fast forward to today. I have qualified for the Boston marathon twice now, not because I’m very fast, but because I’m older and haven’t slowed down all that much (I think there’s a parallel to life beyond running here). I’m not the worst on the course, but by no means am I the best. I have run 11 marathons now and have learned a thing or two about what works and doesn’t, at least for me. Hum, let’s see if I can remember all the races:

  • New York City (twice)
  • Boston (three times)
  • Portland
  • San Diego Rock N Roll
  • Salt Lake City
  • Dublin
  • Chicago
  • Marine Corps

My favorites? Hands down NYC and Boston. My least favorite? Probably San Diego because so much of it was on a highway (though I hear the music is darn good now, so perhaps I should give it another shot). Anyway, I’m going to share a bit about my training runs for Boston this year, as well as bits about what helps, hurts, hinders and facilitates. Does this mean you should listen to my running advice? Well, I think it depends on your natural speed, age, endurance, desire, and goals among other things. But I have learned a thing or two over the years you might be interested to know. My first insight which I’ll share is the revelation I learned last year about protein.

Melinda Hinson