• He's been called the Pied Piper of the Second Running Boom. Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running.

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Year of the Dragon

P.F. Chang's Dragon In the Chinese horoscope, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. [the new year begins January 23] The Dragon symbol is of an intelligent and laborious worker who never puts aside work though sometimes this leads him to excesses. The water Dragon has enough courage to face challenges and easily finds weak points that stand on his way to success.

So far, so good. Except that I was born in the Year of the Rat. Which is not all bad since People under the rat sign are usually smart and wealthy and will work for success. They are sanguine and very adaptable, being popular with others. They are clever and adorable, personable and materialistic. They are also by nature thoughtful, sensible, judiciously and curious. That ain’t awful.

So far, though, 2012 has been the year of the Dragging. As in, dragging my butt out the door or on to the treadmill. I’m doing it, but I can’t say that I’ve got the fire in the belly that I hoped for.

Quick rehash; skip this paragraph if you already know. January 2009, slip my sacroiliac joint, spend six months seeing doctors, getting injected, doing therapy and not much else. April-September 2009 too stupid to see a podiatrist about the pain in my foot because I was sure it was plantar fasciitis, which is was NOT. It was a dislocated cuboid joint. January 2011 start the 100 Day Challenge by walking, stick with walking every day for the entire year.

Now it’s January 2012. My plan was to stay with the 100 Day Challenge but reintroduce running to the winter schedule and  – I hoped – cycling [road and mountain] to the spring and summer schedule. Everything went fine, I stared running one minute and walking for 4 for 45 minutes, for – oh – about a week. Then somehow – SOMEHOW – my back started acting up again. AAARRRGGGHHH. Back to walking.

Today I ran/walked again. It felt great. And then I did something I almost never do. I stretched. On my back, one leg at a time, pulling on the strap and holding it and repeating. Maybe, just MAYBE, my hamstrings really ARE tight [as Coach Jenny keeps saying] and I really should do just a little bit of flexibility.

I really want to run. I want to run/walk the Penguin in the Park 5K at the end of March. To do that, I’ll have to train. To train I’ll have to be able to run. To continue to run, it looks like, I’ll have to work on my flexibility.

It’s a start. Yeah, I know. Next comes full-body flexibility and core strength. Baby steps. With any luck this will be the Year of the Penguin.

Waddle on,


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What others are saying: Because of runners like John, the wall of intimidation has crumbled, and tens of thousands of Americans are now believing in themselves. John has helped raise self-esteem and self-confidence in people all over the world. Nothing is more important to a person’s well-being.Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon race director


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