• 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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For the Love of Running

legends1I suppose a little context for this photo would help. On the left, as you look at the photo, is Frank Shorter. In the center is Steve Scott and on the right – waving his hands – is Rod Dixon. They are all legends in their own right if for no other reason than that they are Olympians. But they are so much more than that. And what they’ve been able to accomplish as athletes is no less astonishing now than it was when they were at the peak of their careers.

Rod, the flying Kiwi, a New Zealander, has been called by some the most complete and versatile runner of all time. He had world records, or competed at the world-class level, at every distance from 800 meters to winning the 1983 New York City Marathon. Steve Scott has run more sub-4 minute miles [136] than anyone in history has – or will. And Frank Shorter is known mostly for his 1972 Gold Medal victory in the Olympic Marathon and bringing long-distance running into the mainstream.

For each of them what they would consider their glory years are far behind. That’s not to take anything away from their great careers and accomplishments, only to suggest that for them – for me – and for most of us it isn’t just about the glory. It’s about the activity. It’s about running and walking. The joy is in the movement, in the finding out, in the surprises that are always lurking in the shadows.

Frank Shorter summed it up. He contends that there is an activity that suits each of us. It could be running, walking, swimming, biking, or any of a hundred other activities. Our challenge is to find that activity that feels best, the one that makes our bodies and our souls feel connected, the one that frees our minds from the constraints of mental aspects of the activity and frees us to simply move.

Even though I started moving later in life, I discovered almost immediately that I liked walking, and running, and cycling.  When I was participating in triathlons I tried to like swimming but it never worked. I understand why people like it. I just don’t.

I feel very lucky to have discovered an activity that I can do for the rest of my life. Frank and Rod won’t win any more Olympic medals. Steve will never run another sub-4 minute mile. For them, for me, for you – I hope  – it doesn’t matter. We can move.

Waddle on, friends.

An Accidental Athlete is available in print and ebooks versions now. BUY THE BOOK

Review An Accidental Athlete on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

What others are saying: Looking for some motivation to start running and improve your fitness? You’re sure to find some inspiration from John Bingham’s new memoir, “An Accidental Athlete.” As an overweight, uninspired pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker, Bingham realized that he had to make some changes in his life and began running at the age of 43. With wit and humor, Bingham recounts his journey from couch potato to self-proclaimed “adult on-set athlete.”ESPN Gear Guide

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