Why Winning Isn’t Everything

| June 01, 2011

John Bingham, known as The Penguin, writes for runners as a magazine columnist. Most of those runners will never win a race.

So I asked John, Why run if you can’t win? “Most of us get all the activity we need by walking, so for me the only reason to run is because you like it,” he answers. Running gives us the confidence to try other things, he says “I can go for a hike now. I can go kayaking,” he says. My favorite is “I can play with my grandchildren without getting winded.”

Bingham travels for his job. He is always finding new places to exercise. He uses a Garmin 310XT GPS watch. “It’s fun to wander around and then hit the back to start button,” he says. GPS watches are great tools to measure performance. I use a Garmin 205.

Bingham gives encouragement. “Most of us would feel a lot better if we just ate a little less and moved a little more.”

What’s the best way to start? “Just get out of the cab and start moving — intentionally for about 20 minutes three days a week,” he says. “Little by little you can add time, maybe 30 minutes, or add days.”

Why did you start? I asked him. “I was 43 years old. I smoked for 25 years. I overate almost every meal. I drank more than my fair share, and I was miserable. I felt old. I looked old. I knew that there had to be something better. I started walking around the streets near my house. One day, I just tried to run a few steps to see how it felt. Little by little I ran more. I started feeling better. I felt younger and that was that.”

How do you stay motivated? I asked. “I’ve never forgotten how miserable I felt before I started running,” he says. “I never ever wanted to feel that way again. So what motivates me is knowing that my life is much better now and can only get better if I keep it up.”

Bingham has lost 80 pounds, quit smoking and finished 45 marathons. He shares his success with readers in a humorous way. Visit www.johnbingham.com.

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