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Stop Running

A man at the finish line of the race.

Picture yourself picking up carry-out food after work on a Friday evening at a local restaurant. Got it? By getting it, I mean the image, not the food.

Now, continue reading and imagine the following scene from last Friday.  

“Excuse me. You look really familiar.” An older gentleman with a British accent said as I waited outside a pizza restaurant with my boys.

“Are you from here?”

“No. I’m from Chicago.”

“Do you have family from here?”


“I really don’t know why you look so familiar.”

“I’m not sure. I work at the university. AUA.” I replied, pointing in the direction of the


“How long have you worked there?”

“Six years.”

"That's a long time, but no, I don't think that's it.”

“Maybe you read the CNBC article about my family’s move. It still circulates.”

A CNBC video linked to an article.


He stood up and walked to the restaurant’s counter. A few seconds later, he returned to his seat with another beer. My sons badgered me with questions about my day and a 5K race I had just completed with students. The man stared at us and drank some more.

There must have been a special ingredient in the beer bottle. “Tell me this. Do you run?” The Englishman resumed his interrogations.

“Yes, you’ve probably seen me on the road at some point.” I smiled.

“That’s it. I’m seeing you up and close now. You know you really should stop running.”

A perplexed look crossed my face.

“Yes. Up to about two years ago, I was fit like you. I ran on the roads and played football until my hips bothered me. The doctors told me it was all the pounding on the roads and that I should stop running."  He sipped his beer and then continued.

"Yes, every time I see someone running on the road, I want to pull over and say, STOP RUNNING! I’ve been wanting to tell you.” He paused, and a smile stretched across his face.

"Ok. Yes, it can take a toll on your body, which is why we must take care of ourselves." I didn’t know how else to respond.

He nodded and then sat quietly for a few minutes. 

 “You know. You really should stop running,” he said again, standing to his feet and draining the last drop from a Carib beer bottle.

I smiled. He grinned and walked toward a champagne color Land Rover. I shook my head as I watched him pull out of the restaurant’s parking lot.

The boys and I grabbed the pizza and went home. Before we ate, I shared the story with my wife. I repeated the man’s advice in a pseudo-British accent.

She laughed. We had similar responses.

Anticipating an injury is not a legitimate reason to stop running. Potential challenges with hips or knees should encourage us to enjoy them while we can. Our bodies' limitations reinforce the need to appreciate our health and to complement running with strength and flexibility workouts.

There is no denying that age impacts our abilities, but it is possible to maintain our health in the later years of life. Don’t retire to the couch for fear of hurting yourself.

From a brief conversation, it’s unclear how the gentleman, who appeared in his early sixties, tended to his body outside of sports activities. Recovery and nutrition are crucial components of any training routine.

Until the juice drains from me like it did this week for OJ Simpson, I will continue exercising and working to improve every day.

The day after the 14-minute conversation outside the pizza joint, I ran 14 miles in honor of the man's advice. It's possible to find motivation in the strangest of places.

The stranger's warnings and finishing Ryan Holiday's book, Discipline is Destiny, propelled my stamina this week. Through the stoic philosophies and the stories of exemplars such as Martha Graham, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Aurelius, and others, I found encouragement to refine habits and expand goals.

Get out this weekend for exercise and pick up Ryan Holiday's book, Discipline is Destiny. See if the combination of physical and mental activity propels you forward. Subscribe to this blog here and share it with a friend.


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Metal hips are an option. My friend got two after 70,000 miles but is not running any more. Cost covered in US by Medicare, but maybe $50,000+ without that insurance.

Replying to

I hope it doesn't come down to metal hips.

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