I was 43 years old and life was good, but the long business lunches were starting to show on my waistline despite the fact that I had always been pretty physically active. Apparently, not enough. The weekly round of golf was just not enough. I made a decision to start running. I thought I would start out by running the periphery of my pretty good sized back yard which I had measured off to determine just how many laps would make a mile. I wouldn't embarass myself by huffing and puffing in my own backyard rather than out in public I thought. After two months, 6 nights per week, 100 laps around the yard (3.5 miles), and wearing a track through the lawn that showed no grass just soil, I was ready to venture out into the streets and hopefully look as cool as the other runners that I saw. I had no intention of competing in running marathons and contests or running with a group of other runners. My primary interest was to get back in shape and shed about 15 useless pounds, despite the fact that I was still smoking. Running in the evening rather than mornings was best for me and relaxed me after a stressful day. I continued the 6 day a week routine and got it to five miles each run in about a year. 30 miles a week was just fine for me. I then took up Raquetball (like Squash) and started playing three times a week in addition to the running at night. Oddly, smoking did not seem to have any effect on my lung capacity or stamina, but I really did want to quit. I was so hooked on running that I started packing my running shoes and shorts to take on out of town business meetings. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, out the hotel door I would go and run 2.5 miles in any direction and then turn around and come back to the hotel. It was like brushing your teeth, just something that had to be done, and feeling bad if you didn't. Well, the excess weight that I was carrying when I started this one man self fitness program came off and stayed off, but damn, I was still smoking. If I have the self disipline to do this running thing, why can't I just up and quit smoking I reasoned. I ran my 6 days a week, played raquetball three times a week, a round of golf on weekends, and still smoked for 10 years. I went to group therapy, tried private hypnosis, the quit smoking gum, audio tapes, everything to try and quit smoking, but I just couldn't get past 48 hours without a butt. I was so hooked, I would go look in the automobile ashtray to see if there was a butt or two left. I would crawl on my kees on broken glass to get to a convenience store to buy ciggs if I had to. Then it happened, I twisted my leg playing raquetball and I heard a popping sound from my right knee along with a sharp pain. After a visit to an Orthopedic Surgeon along with Xrays, I was diagnosed as having torn cartilage in the medial miniscus. Surgery was called for to scrape away the torn cartilage and the doc cautioned me about further running and playing raquetball. In fact, he said to me, "Lon---you would be better off walking, it's just as good for your health and fitness, you runners are making me very wealthy".
I had my surgery one year before they were doing the simple laproscopic
or keyhole surgery which is now like a one day in and out thing. I was in the hospital for three days and guess what? SMOKING NOT ALLOWED. I was able to quit finally because of that 48 hours. Oddly enough, after the three days I never really wanted a cigarette again. I decided to stop running at this point because the right knee never really felt comfortable when I ran, no pain, just not comfortable. I did however continue with the raquetball three times a week until now 15 years after starting the running program, I did a repeat performance on my left knee. Pop, torn cartilage. This time it was the Keyhole surgery. In and out in one day. The doc suggested that I give up Raquetball since there was not really enough cartilage in the right and left knee to facilitate the physical requirements of the game.
What made me think about all of this was the long walk that I took today, some 8 miles. Here I am, 74 years of age, and my knees are stiff as can be. No pain, just stiff and not real stable. I still manage to hobble around the golf course, playing 18 holes, swim twice a week, play Bowls and water volleyball. I'm in pretty good shape for an Old Fart and the best part is being on this side of the grass. Mom and dad both made it into their 90's and I have every intention of doing the same, along with a reasonable quality of life.