The Obsessed Fortysomething Runner: Six ways in which running has warped my thinking


Ever since I became obsessed about running a few years ago, I’ve discovered a number of ways in which running has warped the way I think about things. Most obviously is distance perception, as in, “Well, that’s just five miles away. I could run there pretty easily,” or “Huh, six miles . . . that’s just 24 laps.” But that’s not the only way….

Vacation accommodations


Old me: Is there poolside service?

New me: Are there good running routes around? Is there a gym and if so, how late is it open?

Who doesn’t like poolside service? Of course, I don’t drink alcohol, so the poolside drinks are more along the lines of smoothies and the like, but it’s the general idea of lounging around, reading, and relaxing.

But now, if I’m staying at a place on vacation and it doesn’t have a gym with reasonable hours (i.e., it should be open until at least 10 p.m., if not 24/7), then it had better be a place with good weather and good local running routes. I remember an Alaskan cruise a few years ago, where food was available 24 hours a day, but the gym closed at 9 p.m. Huh??? What is up with that???



Old me: Perfect weather is sunny and 75ish degrees.

New me: Perfect weather is cloudy and 55 degrees. Better to have it be 45 degrees and drizzly than 85 degrees and sunny.

Lucky for me that I live in Portland, huh?



Old me: Gyms are kind of smelly, intimidating places.

New me: A home away from home, not unlike McDonald’s, where you always know what you’re getting. A treadmill is a treadmill is a treadmill.

(As long as it has wi-fi, that is — for feeding my current addiction to the TV series “The Shield,” which streams for free from Amazon Prime.)



Old me: Who needs more than a couple of pairs of shoes (dress shoes for work, casual shoes for everything else)?

New me: Mmm, running shoes.

Sometimes I feel like a junior varsity version of Imelda Marcos. I’ve got the aforementioned dress shoes and casual shoes, but now I’ve also got Brooks Glycerin 11s for long training runs, Saucony Kinvara 2s for speedwork and races, trail running shoes, and retired running shoes that I keep because I like the colors and that I use for rowing/weight work. And I stock up on running shoes when there are sales, because at a lifetime of 500-600 miles per pair of running shoes and an average monthly mileage of around 150 miles, I go through shoes quickly.

Saturday afternoons

lion cubs

Old me: What could be better than a nap?

New me: Uh . . . what could be better than a nap?

Okay, some things haven’t changed. Maybe I would try to squeeze a run in after the nap. But it’s hard to top a good, relaxing nap.

How has running changed your outlook on things?

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