For many years, I tried to jog on my own, but it was never much fun.
I would often run lap after boring lap on the track at the local community center and I usually hated it. The track was nice and it was fine for getting exercise, but it was hard on my mind as I tried to not lose count the entire time I was running.
“11, 11, 11, 11, 11,” I would say to myself to try to keep count while I was only on lap 7. I am a terrible counter, but a great cheater.
Anyway, I liked the running, but it wasn’t a great fit for me and I didn’t think I would be able to keep running for very long. Ironically, that’s the same thing I thought every time I was on lap 4 on the track.
“I am not fit and I can’t run for very long,” I would think to myself.
And that’s when my friend Doug told me about the Athens Jogging Club (AJC). He told me about how the club ran through city neighborhoods, up hills and down some of the public staircases in town, and it sounded great.
It sounded as great as running can sound, that is.
It’s a little like saying a trip to the dentist is super. It’s good for you and there can be fun parts like spitting into that swirling sink, but it’s never anything great.
When discussing the AJC, though, Doug made the jogging sound much less painful and boring, and explained that we could spit while running on streets all around town!
He also stressed a very important point; it’s a “jogging” club and not a “running” club. That is a very important distinction for me, as I am too old and out-of-shape to “run” often, but I can definitely motivate myself to “jog” quite a bit.
So, I joined the AJC and I got to see a different view of some of Athens’ scenic neighborhoods, I got into much better shape and I greatly improved my spitting distance.
And while I could never motivate myself to jog regularly by myself, being a part of the club kept me exercising at least five days a week.
On most days, I would call one of the members to see if there was an interest in jogging, or one of the members would call or text me, and that way it was easy to keep exercising so often. Having a jogging partner is key, and the AJC helped to provide me with one.
Over the years, membership went up and down, as new members joined and some moved on to California (Rachael), Michigan (Rebecca Radio) and somewhere out east that I can’t remember (Aaron), where they started branches of the AJC. One member even started an AJC branch in Spain one summer, although that chapter failed due to all of the rain that falls there, mainly on the plain.
Some who have jogged with us have gone on to run on high school cross country teams, while others have played high school soccer or basketball, and have even been part of a division one college basketball program.
Doug’s four sons and his wife have all been a part of the AJC, and my son, Ben, and my stepchildren Kyle and Sophia have also run with the AJC. Getting the kids to run has been great, except that they are much faster than me.
And even when our family members are not along physically on a jog, they are with us mentally as it gives AJC members such Doug and me time to talk about them. We both tend to obsess on everything, so the AJC gives us the opportunity to talk about a wide range of topics including:
- our perfect parenting
- how we are always correct in a disagreements with family members
- how nice it is that our family members are always encouraging us to get out of the house to go jogging
- how funny we are
- recent conversations that we have been replaying in our minds
- upcoming events (like future jogs)
- everything our children are involved in
- everything our children may be involved in in the next year, or next 10 years
- why our children don’t want to jog with us very often
- our cool AJC shirts
- old episodes of “Andy Griffith” and “Gilligan’s Island”
- our heroics at rec soccer
- how everyone is admiring how fast we are at jogging
The AJC also operates all year long and in all kinds of weather, except of course rain or snow. Who would want to jog in that?
And now that I am a full-fledged member, I am even able to keep myself motivated to jog by myself when no other AJC members are available, not even some of the half-fledged members.
As you can see, the old AJC has really come through for me and I just wanted to give it a mention here. It’s hard to believe that the only actual members of this awesome club are Doug and me.
(Note: There is an Athens Running Club with more than two members. They do some very cool things and they run much faster than we do.)
(Extra note: I’m sure it’s a coincidence that all of the neighbors who have jogged with us moved out of the state soon after they jogged with the AJC.)
(Extra Extra note: Our children are hoping to one day become full-time members, at least that’s what they tell us on most days when they don’t want to jog with us.)