The Coast News Group

Northbound: The achiness of the long distance runner

Ugh. Running is tough, but it’s tougher with age.

I can’t be the only North County resident out there running in my neighborhood. Waiting until the dawn light, or the sunset, before putting on a pair of trusty sneakers and hitting the pavement. Our part of the region lends itself well to long runs.

We have some extraordinary places here to run — I enjoy the trails and beachfront roads of Carlsbad and Encinitas — and Torrey Pines has some great nooks and crannies you can discover too.

Admittedly however, I haven’t been running much these past few months. It’s easy to blame the short, cold, dark days of winter, and some of these rain spells we’ve had, as reasons I haven’t been that active. To be perfectly honest, I’ve just found it difficult to motivate myself to run.

The one active sport I’ve embraced since I was a child is no longer captivating me like it used to.

Age has also done a number on my energy levels and physical readiness. Stretching before and after a run is a must for me, and that takes time.

I also use a foam roller at home, to roll out those run-related aches and pains along my body. My muscles unexpectedly tighten and I can get cramps along the trail now, which never happened as a high school cross country runner. Call me high maintenance? Yes, that sounds about right.

So now, running has become a chore, not a fun pastime to stay active and maintain my weight.

To make it worth my while, I’d also have to run at least an hour, and, well, who among us in the working world has that kind of time? Unless I guess I woke up at 5 a.m., which I’m not going to do.

I occasionally watch motivational videos on YouTube to psyche myself up before a workout at the gym, get focused, rekindle that passion for physical fitness, but running isn’t an intense, testosterone-laden sport — it’s something usually done solo, for long periods of time in silence. It’s a mental game, really, one that requires commitment, focus, and all removal of self-doubt.

With the great weather we’ve been having lately, I’m eager to get out there and run, but I now feel so behind that it’s become a bit overwhelming for me. But you have to start somewhere, right? Begin again.

I’ve always loved the simplicity of running – just sneakers, and a straightaway. Just like life, runs are what we make of them. While I may feel behind starting over this spring, as I hit the trails and get passed by younger, faster runners, I know I have to overcome the complexities that age has given me, and all of us. Maybe it’ll always take a little longer to get ready for a run, but that’s better than never suiting up and hitting the trails again.

Maybe I should plan for a half marathon? I have some friends participating in the Encinitas Half Marathon, which looks like fun, March 26. That’s too soon for me. Maybe one in the fall, and work towards that goal? Sounds like I’ve convinced myself to really make the most of this year.

See you on the trail, North Countyers!

Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.