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Running isn't as easy as it used to be

They say when starting a running program for personal fitness to never increase your overall weekly mileage more than 10 percent more than the prior week's. My quads and hamstrings are telling me that I haven't been following that rule.

Life changes when you age your way into your 30's. People reading this who are perhaps considerably older than that may laugh when reading this, but it's true. I'm no beginning runner, but in some ways I am.

There was a day in the not too distant past when I could run five miles and follow it up with an hour and a half in the weight room. Those were my military days, and these days I have two young children that want my constant attention and a full time law enforcement job that doesn't allow me to spend a couple hours a day working out.

I've run off and on since leaving the military and was in the best shape of my life in 2003. Six years later I'm 32 years old and about 30 pounds heavier. I desperately want to get back in shape by doing what I used to do best - run. The streaks haven't gotten much longer than maybe two weeks of running almost every day. I think in March of '07 though I ran it to almost a month of about two to three miles a day before laziness took over again.

When I was running a few marathons and competing in dozens of road races earlier in this millennium, two or three miles were more like a warmup. Those days are simply gone, and I have to change my attitude.

It's a struggle for me to even put together three miles these days, and forget about the stopwatch, no thanks. By the way, running with my shirt off - not an option. For one I'm Norwegian and look like Casper the Ghost, and, two, I don't want to scare my neighbors.

It takes patience getting back into running, I've learned. I'm on week three now, having started on June 1, with my latest and greatest fitness plan. It's nine hours in a squad car trying to solve other peoples' problems, and then after work it's back to where I'm trying to solve my one big problem - losing this 30 pounds. As a very tall, lanky 170-pounder in high school I would have killed to weigh my present 240, but it's getting old.

My knees hurt, my muscles ache, and I'm not yet at an age where I should feel like an old man. The first week of this month I "ran" about a mile and a half a day and I felt pathetic doing it. Each workout was followed by that euphoric endorphin high though - that was the payoff. The next week I ran about two miles a day, and saw early improvement. This past week I upped my final run of the week (I take Sundays off) to five miles.

The big stride equaled a big mistake when I could barely stand up straight in the shower the next morning. I had to use the railings to get downstairs after that. I've always been big on stretching when running, but this past half decade of relative inactivity has shown me just how inflexible I've become.

I probably spend as much time stretching before and after running now than I do the running itself.

I may not reach my goal of surpassing my fitness level that I attained while a U.S. Marine. That doesn't mean I won't try.

But I should probably be more realistic. Now, if I could only kick that Mountain Dew habit...