Not to the swift

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I plan to join the Fort4Fitness runners next year.

This year, I’m still trying to coax my stress-fractured left heel back to health. Oddly, I find it comfortable to walk four miles. No jogging, though.

I can’t complain about my view of Saturday’s run. Just before the first participant passed our house, I had situated myself comfortably in my cushy chair on the front porch.

I brought the morning paper and my coffee and was all ready to watch this annual parade of several thousand runners, joggers and walkers go thundering by.

To be sure, not every participant thundered. Still, it was thrilling to see those in wheelchairs among the crowd. Now that takes a lot of courage.

Sunday’s paper said that over 9,000 signed up for the race. A few struggled along toward the official end of the race, huffing and puffing with every step. Most probably will make it to Parkview Field or about two miles from our Fort Wayne house.

Among the top finishers of the half-marathon was a young man with an Hispanic surname from Syracuse, Ind., boasting an impressive just over an hour’s time.

And who can’t be impressed by the young volunteer firefighter from nearby Antwerp, Ohio? This guy ran the race with 45-pounds of fireman’s gear on his back.

Or how about the 84-year-old who ran the 10K part of the race? That guy set the bar high for me. I’ll be 78 for the race next year.

I’m sure many other mid-sized cities put on races and walks to raise money for charity and to promote a healthy lifestyle. How American!

Then there are the Chicago and New York marathons – in a class by themselves.

Finishers in those races rack up Olympic-size numbers – far beyond my ability when I was much younger. The truth is, it’s hard for me to imagine running 20 miles so fast. Or even running non-stop more than 10 miles.

Of course, to achieve a decent level of fitness you don’t have to be a runner or even just a pokey jogger.

All it takes is a daily brisk walk of a mile or two. It helps to follow a low-fat diet mostly on fruits, grains, vegetables and mostly fish or chicken for protein. Sure, you can eat a helping or two a week of red meat. I simply avoid it altogether.

Exercise isn’t magic. It won’t make you thin. It won’t make you handsome. It probably won’t make you live longer. It won’t automatically make you a happy person.

But the jogging, the hiking and the 50 daily pushups have always made me feel better. That’s a darn good bargain for a couple hours a day. I don’t plan to stop. Ever.

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