Name: Joseph Oleary
Current Location: New York City, NY
Picking up running when I did (three years ago, a few months shy of my 39th birthday) is, I imagine, to the outside observer, clearly a response to me quitting smoking in conjunction with some sort of midlife crisis event. The simple explanation is that I just switched my obsession with smoking over to running. Internally, the narrative is slightly different; it’s true I did get my act together around three years ago – but because I’d found myself at a point where I felt I had failed my responsibilities to both my social bonds and my art. To make an long story short, I came to the conclusion that the problem was literally, physically, me. I lacked the constitution to create a consistent and stable mental state through which I could repair those bonds and fulfill those responsibilities.
I tried a lot of things. I did yoga. I lifted weights. I cycled. I enjoyed them all but nothing stuck.
Running made sense to me immediately. Running was a profoundly personal experience when I needed time to commune with my literal mind and body. Words like “God” or “spiritual” describe the feel, but don’t account for the physicality of it. Running revealed inside me intense joy at a time I’d figured the well had run dry. But I wasn’t lacking anything. What I needed was a fresh coat of awe thrown over everything. Running did that.
Everything I read recommended to beginners a program called Couch to 5k. When I finished that program, I found a 5k to run. I wanted to beat my time, so I ran another, and beat it. Then I did Bridge to 10k. When I finished that, I found a 10k to run. Along the course, I saw people taking photos, so I looked on facebook the next day for photos tagged at the event. Some guy named Dave Johnson had one of me near the finish. I went to his profile and found he had a running group that did Monday workouts. So that night I went to my first TMIRCE track workout. You know the rest.