Runner's High/Low

My fiance in a runner (a hottie runner none-the-less) and a couple of months ago I made a hearty attempt at running so we could enjoy the activity together and I could burn off my daily intake of chocolate and cookies.

However, it turns out that I am a really, really crappy runner. I mean crappy if you consider barely running a lap, almost passing out, running to the grass to vomit, moaning in agony and pain crappy?

Ugh. It was bad and while I've tried to stick with it (sort of) and push my body through this grooling, killer of an excersize, I 've seen little progress. GQ tells me it's all mental and I need to just tell myself mentally, "I love to run", but when he tells me this I just want to mentally slap him.   So I'm thinking I will be sitting on the sidelines watching a lot of his races probably eating a cookie...or two!

Anyway, I admire people who run. I really do. I can see how it can be freeing and exhilerating and it's an amazing workout. So this story really impressed me about a blind kid/pre-teen runner who does actually get off his rear-end and excersize (unlike many teenagers...and adults...today). Fun story, you should totally read it below. Although it did make me feel really fat and super lazy! :(

Among the more than 1,000 participants expected at the TMC Get Moving Tucson Run/Walk on Oct. 9 will be Maarten Schmidt, an 11-year-old student at Donaldson Elementary School.

Maarten has logged more than 1,300 miles since July 2009, sometimes on a track but mostly on a treadmill at home.

That's a pretty good accomplishment for most of us - and an especially impressive achievement considering that the fifth-grader is blind.

As his father, Kurt, says: "A couple of years ago, we realized that Maarten's blindness was keeping him from being as physically active as kids his age should be. We started taking him to the Northwest YMCA, where he could work out on the elliptical machine and burn off some of his excess energy. Then we got a treadmill at home. Now Maarten runs about 40 minutes a day after school and even up to an hour on Saturdays."

While Maarten worked out at the Y, fitness trainer Otis Booker took an interest. "Otis is a former Army guy," Kurt said, "so he's quite the motivator."

Otis and Maarten still work out on a regular basis, even doing boot-camp-type exercises at a park.

Maarten and Kurt have run two races together (that's them in the picture), but the Get Moving Tucson 5K will be their first since last winter. "Get Moving fits well into our family schedule, since it's on a Saturday. Sunday is a needed break from running for Maarten and a day of rest for our family. The scenery of the 5K route plus being part of the Tucson Meet Yourself festival sounds pretty cool."

Kurt has no worries about the streetcar tracks along Congress Street and North Fourth Avenue. "We run together, attached by a cord that's about 4 feet long, so I'm pretty much right with him all the time. As his guide, I call out the things that might cause problems, and if need be, I'm there to grab his hand."

Still, don't think that the Schmidts are some sort of superfamily. As Kurt says: "I'm 48, so no spring chicken, but this has been a thrill for me. It's taken me back to my high school days, when I was a pretty decent runner, but I've got to admit that I'm not as dedicated as Maarten is."

Clearly, Maarten's story is a motivating one. I mean, once you know about Maarten's challenges, if you can't get off the couch and get out the door yourself, then there's not a whole lot that will motivate you. But isn't that the way life is? We all have our mundane challenges - running late from meeting to meeting, picking up the kids who are screaming, working a part-time job to make ends meet.

And some of us have some more earnest challenges: diabetes racks our region - nearly 10 percent of us have it. And about 30 percent of Arizonans are clinically obese. Want more? Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Arizona.

So what's the secret to solving some of these problems? It's simple: exercise. Get out the door and get moving. The Arizona Department of Health Services agrees: The State Strategic Plan for diabetes and heart disease says that leading a more active lifestyle can check these killers.

Maarten Schmidt and his father are excellent role models for all of us. Don't let life's troubles, small or large, keep you from giving yourself the gift of exercise. Go for a 15-minute walk. Run around the neighborhood. Join a softball team; shoot some hoops at the playground; join a gym or YMCA.

Do something - do anything. Just get moving, Tucson! (and Slate and Stylish Readers!)

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