Thursday, June 11, 2009

Salute to My Running Dad

When I saw this topic announced on TIaRT last week, I knew I had to write about my remarkable running dad.

As long as I can remember, my father has been running. He started running when he was 30, a mile every day. I don't remember the progression, but for a long time, he ran 5 miles, 3 days a week. As with everything else, he was extremely meticulous about running. While we were still sleeping, he would don a T-shirt, shorts and shoes and drive to the beach, park his car by the side of the road, and begin his run. A neatly-ironed pair of pants were placed on the car seat next to him, in case of emergencies (he was a prominent surgeon in the small town we lived in and almost everyone knew him. As he explained, if the car broke down, he would be forced to walk into town, and it would not do his reputation any good to have people see him in running shorts).

My father was always interested in games (he has plenty of stories of the games he won in college, and medals to prove them), but his induction into running was gradual. His passion for a healthy lifestyle was gradual too. He now boasts cleaner eating habits than anybody I know (boasts is right...he takes pride in them). After a back injury left him bed-ridden for a long time and almost crippled him, he began to pay careful attention to stretching and strength training.

He believes in a scientific approach to everything. He still lives in the little town in South India I grew up in, where most people believe that running is only done by professional athletes, and jogging is an activity you indulged in half-heartedly, when your physician pronounced you obese (it's usually a cross between a shuffle and a limp and rarely lasts longer than 20 minutes). Of course, gizmos like Heart Rate Monitors, and gels, energy beans and blocks, well-cushioned running shoes, moisture-wicking clothes and socks are unheard of. My dad still wears cotton shirts and shorts, rubs liquid paraffin on his feet to prevent blisters and wears thick cotton socks in the blistering heat; and he jokes that his 'running' shoes are the most expensive item in his wardrobe.

But he is constantly looking for more information on running, and is willing to try out new running-related products/techniques/concepts. He used to wait until the soles of his shoes wore out completely before replacing them, but has recently started replacing running shoes after a few 100 miles. He has always believed that every run should leave you exhausted, so he was surprised and excited when he heard that unless you are doing a speed workout, you should be able to hold a conversation while running. My dad has been a regular participant at local Veterans Athletic Events for years, competing in the 5K and 10K; on my suggestion, he recently tapered for a 10K race and tried a mild version of carb-loading, after which, he reported that the results were satisfactory.

When we were young, my brothers and I were initiated into my dad's running routine. A couple of days in the week, he would drive us to a local college track. When my dad's alarm went off, we would start inventing excuses to stay in bed. Most of the time, the excuses were ignored, though after we trailed behind him for a mile or so, most of the time half-asleep, we would grudgingly acknowledge how great running made us feel. Later, he built a 150 meter dirt track around the house, so if we missed our morning runs, we could run at any time of the day. I enjoyed participating in races and the adrenaline rush they gave me, but I could not understand why people would run for exercise or for fun. As a kid, I've often wondered how my dad could be up at 4 in the morning, 5 days a week, to run the same boring route he has run for ages. Now, I understand. My parents were part of my cheering team 2 years ago, when I ran my first half marathon. I still remember my dad videotaping the start, and proudly narrating the experience later, to anyone who cared to listen.

My father has been running for about 40 years. There is now a running stadium in my hometown, which he and my mother drive to 4 days a week; my mom walks while my dad runs. My older brother runs and swims when he can. My younger brother is an avid mountain climber/skier and when he can't do either, he is out on long bike rides. And as you know, I am on a mission to run as many miles as possible in a week without getting injured. At family get-togethers, running, table tennis and discussions on fitness are invariably on the agenda. And we all firmly believe The family that plays together, stays together.

Happy Father's Day in advance, dad! I think you'll be happy to know I ran 6 miles on Monday, 5 miles on Tuesday and 6 miles today, all in the pouring rain.

Now, don't forget to head over to The Happy Runner to celebrate her blog birthday and her cool giveaway.

20 comments:

lindsay said...

wow! what a great reflection on your dad and his running career. he definitely sounds like a great dad and running mentor. i especially like the part about having to get up early and run with him - i think all kids would have moaned and groaned!

Heather C said...

Wow, what an inpsiration!! And so great to have such a motivated and dedicated running Dad :) this was a great post. I think of myself as a morning runner, but 4 am?!! whoooa. that's serious :) haha

Beth said...

That was great to read about your dad! What a great role model. Obviously, you kids were smart enough to follow his example. Thanks for sharing about him!

ledewoman said...

Your dad is pretty remarkable, I agree! It takes a lot for an adult man to change his ways, and your dad seems to be curious and receptive to change. I can only hope to grow up as wise.

Emily said...

Lovely post! Your dad is a great runner!

You sound like you're doing awesome with all of that mileage this week!

Abby said...

Aw, I loved reading this.

It's so great that just as he was there to push you as a kid, he can now be there as a spectator to support you.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Awesome post about your dad, and what a great role model he was to you. So inspiring.

Scheri said...

What a great post! Your dad sounds like a very inspiring man and wonderful father. You are both very lucky to share running.

D10 said...

I really enjoyed reading your post and about your dad. Living in the US with all the running gear and trinkets we forget how simple running is and can be.

Sounds like you have a wonderful family!

X-Country2 said...

These dad posts have been so fantastic. Sounds like your dad and entire family are pretty special. I hope my kids say that about us some day. :o)

Heather said...

This was a great post about your dad. :)

Erica said...

What a fabulous post. Your dad sounds awesome. My parents had a HUGE impact on my healthy lifestyle as well and I will be forever grateful for it. My mom has been attending group fitnesses classes on a regular basis for as long as I can remember. We grew up mostly in California, and I actually started taking kiddie group fitness classes around age 7. My dad has always weight trained/worked out. He also runs on occasion. Thank goodness for healthy parents ;)

Roisin said...

Awwww...your dad sounds neat :) What a great influence to have in your life, especially on the fitness side. But I can see where his example would motivate other parts of your life too!

Coloradan said...

What a great family! Your dad is very inspirational.

Bee At Work.. said...

Beautiful post and very well written...I really enjoyed reading your post and all about your dad!!!
Your dad is great and you all have made him proud...

Count of Monte Christo said...

Great post! It is so great that your dad has been running all these years. It must be a great example.

lauren said...

I loved reading this! your dad sounds amazing. And it sounds SO similar to my family - especially the conversations at family events. It is all about running, ping pong, and fitness!

sandylsu said...

Hi Kavi!

I absolutely LOVE reading your blog thus far. I especially like this entry where your dad actually built a track around your house! What a novel idea - I want to do that in the future!

Your dad sounds like an amazing person who cares a lot about not only his health but his family. A wonderful model to follow!

Sandy

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