• 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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Summer in the City

It’s gonna hit 100 degrees here in Chicago today. That’s the air temperature. That temperature, and the humidity, makes it feel like it’s, I think, 136 degrees out. I don’t care what anybody says, that’s hot.

But, I want to run or walk or do something active today. I’ve gotten out that last two days into the 100 acre wood and could probably do that again today. There’s shade on most of the path. And the temperature drops to, I think, 127 degrees in the shade. Look, you know it’s hot when the deer are standing neck deep in the small ponds.

What am I going to do? As soon as I finish this blog I’m going downstairs to Jenny’s Gym and walk/run on the treadmill. You read that right. I’m giving in. I’m conceding. I’m wimping out. I’m using my head. We say that there are old motorcyclists and bold motorcyclists but there are no OLD, BOLD motorcyclists. I think it’s true for runners too.

We runners and walkers tend to be a little obsessive about our activity. At least I am. And this year, now that I’ve hit the 200 day mark, I am especially obsessive. And cautious. I am not going to do anything today that risks my not being able to do something tomorrow. So, I’m heading downstairs and inside.

There will be people running along the lakefront today. There always are. Maybe they don’t have a choice. More likely they think they don’t have a choice. Their training schedule calls for a 5 mile tempo run today and – no matter what – they’re going to get it in. I get their commitment but question their judgement. It’s fine to be disciplined. It’s fine to have a schedule and sticking to it. But it’s not fine to ignore the truth about what’s going on around you.

The truth is that no matter what your training schedule calls for just getting out and walking is better than not doing anything at all. If, like me, you have access to a treadmill then you can adjust your schedule to something you feel comfortable doing on a treadmill.

Or, you can just take a day – or a couple of days – off. OFF.

You can’t finish if you don’t start. Please folks, let’s be careful out there.


John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, An Accidental AthleteThe 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.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K interview

Competitor Group Inc. put on the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K Sunday, June 19. I was interviewed by ABC7’s resident runner John Garcia: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8199393

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