The Province

Get out there and do it, but do it smart


Russ Simpson made his transition from recreation­al runner to cyclist long ago. He’ll be the first to admit, he’s not what you would call “a runner.”

“Run?” The Langley high-school teacher wrote in response the a question about weekly running mileage on The Province Marathon Team applicatio­n form.

“I think about doing it several times per week. So far, my follow through has been consistent­ly none.”

While the concept had exercised itself on the treadmills of Simpson’s mind, it was one that had yet to return to his everyday routine.

After sending his applicatio­n — and musing the convenienc­es of an “un-send” button in email systems — the 63-year-old began regular three-kilometre runs. If for no other reason, he explained, than the fear of how he’d fair if he made the cut. He did make the cut. Simpson, harbouring hope in completing the half marathon “smiling and standing”, joins four other hopefuls making their own strides toward the 2012 BMO Vancouver Marathon. This year, he’s all in. “That was my first long run, and it went a lot better than I expected,” Simpson said of a New Year’s Day seven-kilometre run.

After reading Running Room founder and team coach John Stanton’s book on building a successful running program, Simpson now starts his routine with stretching exercises.

“I found it has really helped, and even when I don’t run, I now stretch,” Simpson said.

The aches and pains he began feeling during his time as a runner accounted for the reason he stopped chasing pavements 15 years ago.

Cycling met those pains with a warmer reception.

His new life as a biker even drew the attention of a couple of his students at Walnut Grove Secondary School. The group of young mountain bikers wanted a club, and they wanted Simpson to organize it.

After some need-convincing, Simpson joined the students for a ride. “And much to my astonishme­nt, I found I had fun.” That was 15 years ago. Since then, Simpson has been managing the club annually, leading students and their bikes to velodromes on a weekly basis.

“With the kids, I look at them having fun, and some of the things that they like to do with their bikes, I can’t do,” he said. “I’ve become the spectator ... I keep the Band-aids close.”

“I look at running as something I used to enjoy,” Simpson said. “Running is still something I can do.”

The father of five — a 23-year-old daughter and four sons in their 40s — is finding his way back to a vivified lifestyle in rediscover­ing his old running fling.

This time; a little conditioni­ng, a little stretching, a little research.

“Get out there and do it,” he said. “But do it smart.”

 ?? MARK VAN MANEN — PNG ?? Walnut Grove teacher Russ Simpson leads the cycling club in training.
MARK VAN MANEN — PNG Walnut Grove teacher Russ Simpson leads the cycling club in training.

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