• 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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I’m not ignorning you. I just don’t know where your message is.

emailI was a very early adopter to email. In 1984, when I was an administrator at School of Music at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had an email address. The only other person I knew that had an email address was the Director of Graduate Admissions. His office was one floor above mine. Since we only had each other to email it wasn’t hard to keep up with my messages.

I was also an early adopter to AOL. Yes, I heard it thousands of times: “You’ve got mail.” I thought I was just about the coolest guy on the planet. I had a modem and I could dial in from anywhere. I could even set the modem to automatically pull mail in the middle of the night so that I could sit in front of the computer with my first cup of coffee.

By the early 2000’s I was getting email messages all day every day. And because the internet was global, so were the emails. I remember my mom being surprised that I got emails “over night.” She didn’t grasp that on the internet there is no night and day, just a continuous stream of data.

Then came domain names and email boxes. Then came email services. Suddenly I had messages scattered across several email addresses [thepenguin@johnbingham.com, john@johnbingham.com, jjbingham@earthlink.net to name just three that are still active] In addition to my AOL account [anyone remember RWPenguin@AOL.com?] I had a Yahoo account and others that I can’t even remember. I had Yahoo groups and the Penguin Brigade listserv. And that was before Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

Now, I have messages coming at me from all directions. There are 3 Facebook accounts [jjbingham, johnthepenguinbingham, and 100dayschallenge] that I personally monitor. There are all the event Facebook accounts. There’s the Twitter account. And, of course, the routine emails.

So, if you’ve emailed me, or messaged me, or IM’ed me, or Tweeted me, or anything else I you haven’t heard back from me, please don’t take it personally. I’m not ignoring you. I just don’t know where your message is.

Waddle on, friends.

You can follow me on Twitter: @jjbingham and on Facebook: @johnthepenguinbingham

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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Groundhog Day

If you haven’t seen the movie Groundhog Day, I strongly encourage you to see it. I think it’s Bill Murray’s best work. The movie is funny enough on it’s face, but if you look beyond the gags the allegory is really poignant. I don’t think it gives away the plot to suggest that the point is that until you’re willing to take some risks and take action to change your life you’ll be living the same day over-and-over even if the calendar date changes.

That was certainly the case for me. There were lots of external changes in my life. I went from being in school to being in grad school to being in the Army to being back in school to getting a job and so it went. I was married. I was not married. I was married again. And so it went.

I changed jobs, changed careers, changed the geography of my life and yet, sooner or later, everything that I had been became everything that I was: again. Like so many people I weighed too much, I ate too much, and  I drank too much. So I tried eating less, drinking less, cutting out carbs and fats and protien. I ate nuts and bananas, eggs and cheese, fat free yogurt and low fat peanut butter. For a while.

But who I was always resurfaced. It didn’t matter what I did to the outside of myself the inside of me stayed the same. I was going around in circles. Every day was the same day. It was the movie Groundhog Day and I was the star.

It all changed the day I took my first run. It was more of a walk, or a waddle, or a stumble. It was movement. Forward movement. And even though I ended up where I started out I knew that I had gone somewhere. That experience of moving – slow, steady, relentless moving – was new. Something was changing. Slowly, for sure, but changing. I was changing. With each run I got farther away from who I’d been and closer to who I was becoming.

So when I watch Bill Murray finally come to grips with the truth that the biggest problem in his life was that he was the one living it, I smile. When I remember all the excuses I had for not being active, for not eating better, for not living a life with more purpose, I smile. It was never relationships or bosses or experiences that help me back. It was me.

If your life feels like Groundhog Day, I understand. I’ve been there. I lived there.

But I can tell you that it doesn’t have to stay that way. Life can change. YOU can change. And you can do it with nothing more than your own two feet.

Waddle on,

John

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 motiviation 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

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,

John

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: 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

Thinking like a runner | CourageToStart.com

This is the time of year when many folks start to think about a lifestyle change. Here’s a couple of tips from the book “Courage to Start”.

Thinking like a runner | CourageToStart.com.

What to do now?

Ever notice how the simplest ideas can blow up in your face? You know, sometimes what seems like a quiet idea, something that will attract no attention and create no personal problems develops a life of its own and you find yourself hanging on to the tiger’s tail?

To review; I was injured for nearly the entire year of 2010. It started in January with a slipped sacroiliac joint. A failed injection then a SUPER injection and I was able to run and walk comfortably. Then came the cuboid subluxation syndrome, which I created on a motorcycle trip and then aggravated for months by running on it. By December I was ready to get back at it. I missed being active.

So, I challenged myself and my Facebook friends and fans to join me in committing to 30 minutes of intentional movement every day for 100 days. And, much to my surprise over 10,000 people joined up. Now we’re on to the 100 Days of Summer which is more about play than intentional movement. And here’s my problem.

I did the 100 days. I nailed it. Every day. 30 minutes at LEAST. For 100 days. Then, on day 101 I kept going. And on day 102 and 103 and 104. You get the idea. It’s now day 180 and, you guessed it, I’m still going. I’m just a couple of days short of being half-way through the year and I’m still on it. NOW WHAT?

OK, the WHOLE truth is that I’ve been walking, mostly, cycling every now and then, and mixing in some running when the mood hits me. But mostly I’ve been walking. And I have been enjoying it. More than that, I’ve found that I really look forward to it, the walking that is.

I’ve walked alone. I’ve walked with Jenny. I walked last Friday with fellow announcer Ian Brooks and I walked on  Sunday with my friend Indro. I walked with them. Nearly no one ever wanted to run with me. I was too slow. People said they wanted to. I got invited by clubs to go “run” with them, but it never worked. I always ended up running – in the back – by myself.

Something’s different about walking. It seems, almost by its nature, to be social. And the pace lends itself to conversation. Or, when I’m alone, to contemplation.

I tell myself at the beginning of each new month that I’m going to focus on running. One of these months I will. For now, though, I’m on a roll and I’m not going to do anything to risk getting banged up again.

Yep. You guessed it. I’m going to try to move every day for an entire year.

Waddle on, friends.

John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start,No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.

Order your EARLY copy of John’s NEW book An Accidental Athlete today.

Have a question for John? Write him.

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