Is there life after running?

After my second knee operation (removing fragments of meniscus, scraping some mildly arthritic deposits) via arthroscopy, the doc showed me the MRI scan and said I didn’t have a whole lot of cartilage left in my knee. “On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re at a 7…” — “10” meaning no cartilage left, or bone-on-bone. A light bulb went on. Quit racing, you dumb fuck! Especially since my racing entailed running real fast down hlll to make up for slow uphills.

I ran the half mile and cross-country in high school. I wasn’t good enough for the Stanford track team, but once out of college and the Air Force, and when I was working as an insurance broker, I started running (in San Francisco) on my lunch hour. I wore a sweat suit and tennis shoes. Before the fitness boom. Often I’d run on the beach, then go body surfing.

It wasn’t until the mid-80s that I found out about RUNNING, Stretching guru Bob Anderson got me started, and then I worked for about a year with Olympic runner Jeff Galloway on his book, Galloway’s Book on Running. In the course of hanging out with Jeff for about a year, I started running seriously, and racing in mostly 10Ks and some triathlons. At that age (early 50s), I did better in my age group each year. And on it’s gone for 25 or so years.

In recent years I’ve been running the Dipsea Race, a 7.2 mile race over hill and dale from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach (north of San Francisco). The oldest cross-country race in America, it’s wild and romantic and difficult and beautiful, and it’s easy to get obsessed (and injured repeatedly).

Well, I’ve hung up my Dipsea shoes. I realized that probably the most important aspect of fitness is being able to move, to have mobility. I want to be walking for the next 25 years, so I need all the cartilage I can preserve. If you’re a runner and 60 or over, I suggest getting MRIs of both knees. Check that cartilage! it’s  your shock absorber in this remarkable joint.

Once I made the decision to quit (competition, that is), a new world opened up. I don’t have to train! I don’t have to stress about running 2-3 times a week. I don’t need to run at maximum speed. So I’ve been hiking along beaches, riding my mountain bike — exploring new parts of my world — and it’s fabulous. With each excursion I go into new territory. I’m doing some fishing, more skateboarding.

Oh yeah, I still run a little, but just for fun…

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

6 Responses to Is there life after running?

  1. hello!
    i just left you a comment on a very OLD post – last year, April, the one about Greta Guzak. peek!

  2. Obviously there IS life and beside living our own, you share your full and wonderful life with us! That's way better than a sharp stick in the eye, as my daddy used to say. Or, in the knees, in this case.

  3. For me it has been great reading this post & comments. I used to like running in my teens, but I stopped enjoying it and started getting knee problems. After reading a post a few months back about indian running I realised the reason I stopped enjoying it was because of competition together with the wear & tear that goes with it.
    Recently I have started running again, this time for enjoyment.

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