Your Eyes, They're Like Lipid Pools ...

I like to tell people that I started running because I have fat eyes. That’s not entirely true, but it’s not a lie either. Years ago, during the course of a regular eye exam, my eye doctor asked me, seemingly out of the blue, whether I had high cholesterol. I said, “Not that I know of. Why?” He explained that he could see “lipids” in my eyes and that these lipids were a good indication that I either have or had high cholesterol (apparently, even if you get your cholesterol under control, the lipids never fully vacate the premises of your eyes).

Upon learning this, I did two things: I looked up the term “lipid”; and I made an appointment with my family physician to have my cholesterol checked.

Turns out a lipid is “a substance such as a fat, oil, or wax that dissolves in alcohol but not in water and is an important part of living cells.” Part of me never really got past the word “fat” in that definition, but, ever the optimist, I held out hope that my eyes might be merely big-boned. My subsequent trip to the doctor confirmed that my fat (not big-boned) eyes were not lying: I did, indeed, have (relatively) high cholesterol.

And my fat eyes are the reason I began to runNote 1. In the course of discussing my cholesterol, my doctor mentioned that if one’s overall cholesterol numbers are relatively high, doctors nowadays generally don’t worry too much as long as the numbers for the good cholesterol – for there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, it seems – are also high, “Like over 100, but you rarely see numbers like that except, maybe, in marathon runners.” He mentioned running in this context of helping to raise good cholesterol levels multiple times; and since he was also discussing putting me on meds for my high (bad) cholesterol – something I wanted to avoid, if possible – I thought to myself, Perhaps I should give this running thing a try.
Summer Run

So I did. Run, that is. Run, librarian, run!

Long story short: In three months, through a combination of runningNote 2 regularly and altering my diet to exclude fat as much as possible, my overall cholesterol level dipped to a very acceptable number while my good cholesterol count increased.

That, in short, is how I became a runner.

One of the truly wonderful things about running as an exercise is that, to get started, all you need, equipment-wise, is a pair of what runners will laugh at you if you call them sneakers because nowadays they are for some reason called “running shoes” but they sure look a lot like what I called sneakers when I was a kid but as I said don’t call them that in front of runners because they will laugh at you and yes it stings just a little to be laughed at by runners but cowboy up and get past it without giving in to the urge to break into sobs because it will make you stronger in the endNote 3. But my point is, all you need is those snea-- … er, I mean “running shoes.” A good pair – and you really should invest in a decent pair that fit you well and support you where you need support and possibly even help in correcting for any idiosyncrasies in your gait – may cost more than mere “sneakers” but they are worth the expense and they honestly are all you will truly needNote 4

Now that you done bought yourself a paira them there fancy “runnin’ shoes,” you may be tempted to dive right in and just start running; but I do not recommend you do that, especially the diving part – take it from me, a guy who’s accidentally face-planted while running on more than one occasion and managed thereby to knock a cap out one time (Yay! An emergency trip to the dentist!) and dislocate a shoulder on another (Yay! Two months of physical therapy!)Note 5. Before you start running, it’s a good idea to have your doctor give you the once over with an eye toward determining whether running might (or might not) be right for you.

But also … make use of your library.

I sure did.

When I decided to start running, the first thing I did was walk (not run – it’s a library, after all) to the section of the stacks where the running books are shelved. (That would be 796.42.) The book I checked out, lo, those many years ago, was Running for Fitness by Owen Barder, possibly being influenced by the book’s back cover, where Owen is described as “an experienced runner who has competed in marathons around the world [and i]n his spare time … manages the website of London’s famous [?] Serpentine Running Club which won the Runner’s WorldNote 6 best all-around British website in 2001.”

Huh. They having running in Great Britain too? Who knew? I wonder which side of the road they run on and do they have their own quaint little British term for running shoes, like, maybe, “sneakers”? That – the back cover blurb – may have influenced me, but I was probably more influenced by the book’s title, since I did, indeed, want running to help me get fit – “trade in those fat eyes for fit eyes!” as the saying goesNote 7.

Mr. Barder’s book, in any case, was of great use to me in my fledgling career as a runner. He covers such issues as why one might choose to run, how to get started, how to go about picking an appropriate (or “proper,” as they say in England) pair of running shoes (or “athletic foot gloves,” as nobody’s ever said in England). The book covers women runners as well as older and younger runners. It also covers preventing and dealing with injuries, which (see above) are virtually inevitable.
Winter Run

In short, this one book was of immense help to me as I began running. But guess what?

The library has tonsNote 8 of such titles. Here are just a few:

No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running by John “The Penguin” Bingham.
Because nothing evokes the pointless awkwardness of running slowly better than an author nicknamed “The Penguin.” But in all seriousness, the book emphasizes the fact that running does not have to be fast to be effective (I personally can vouch for this), depending on what you goal is … or what it should be. If your sole goal is to run fast, however, you can safely skip this title.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Running by Bill Rodgers and Scott Douglas. Third Edition.
The title is somewhat misleading because you do not have to be a complete idiot to read this book. You could even be – dare I say it? – marginally intelligent. And you probably are – you’re reading this blog, after all. Bully for you!

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Marathon Training by David A. Levine and Paula Petrella.
Wow, are book titles in all the subject areas in the library this insulting to our patrons? I confess, I had no idea. Once again I must stress that you do not have to be a complete idiot to read this book; but if you intend to go through with what it suggests and run a marathon, it would be to your advantage to be less-than-fully-sane. But that’s just my opinion about marathoners in generalNote 9. (See footnote 2, below. Your Mileage May Vary.)

Listed above are just a few of the items the library has to offer on the subject of running. We also have DVDs. eBooks, Juvenile books. Audiobooks (you can listen to a book about running … while running! Be honest – I just blew your mind a little, didn’t I?).

When it comes to running? Your first step should be … toward the Mercer County Library.

Note 1 This is where, in a shocking, M. Night Shyamalan-like plot twist that nobody could have seen coming, the post you thought was going to be about controlling high cholesterol transforms into a post about … running … as a method of controlling high cholesterol.(Back)

Note 2 I did not, however, become a marathon runner. Most of my runs are under 10 miles – often far under ten. I have nothing but admiration for anyone who knowingly and intentionally runs 26.2 miles without stopping. But I secretly also consider such people – these so-called “marathoners” – let’s just say, "less-than-fully sane." So, to amend my previous statement: I have nothing but admiration for, and a good dose of fear of, such people, what with their being of less-than-sound mind and all.(Back)

Note 3 When it comes to issues of running fashion, all runners are essentially Joan Rivers: They will judge you by what you wear and the claws will come out quickly, frequently and to ruthless purpose.(Back)

Note 4 Depending, of course, on how you define “need” because, let’s be honest, here: With most people, their gait isn’t the only thing idiosyncratic about them. People define the word “need” very idiosyncratically, indeed. And so you will encounter other runners who will tell you that you, naïve noob, “need” special moisture-wicking running shirts; special moisture-wicking running shorts; special moisture-wicking running socks … O, let’s just cut to the chase and say a whole special moisture-wicking outfit or three because if there’s one thing runners tend to do in the course of running it’s become moist and you will be far more comfortable as you run if that moisture – and there will be a lot of it – is wicked away from your body by magic clothing. (I don’t understand how this “wicking” works so I naturally assume it’s either magic or witchcraft.) And even though I know I don’t “need” these things, these “special” clothes, I have now been a runner for over seven years and so yes, of course, I own numerous moisture-wicking outfits.
But I don’t need them. I can quit them any time I want.(Back)

Note 5 Honestly, if you decide to start running, odds are you will, at some point, fall and hurt yourself to some degree so why force the issue by diving? Save your diving for the pool and/or the boxing ring.(Back)

Note 6 I cannot let a mention of the excellent running magazine Runner’s World (which the Mercer County Library subscribes to) go by without remarking the truly noggin-scratchingly odd placement of the apostrophe in its title. Who exactly is this single runner whose world this magazine purports to be bringing to us on a (roughly) monthly basis and why should I care about his world? Why can’t they change their name to Runners’ World and thereby imply that the magazine’s coverage includes my vision of the world in which I (and others) run instead of just this one guy's?(Back)

Note 7 Full disclosure: There is no such saying. But feel free to put a hashtag in front of it and make it trend on the Twitter machine.(Back)

Note 8 Or tonnes, as they say in England. Okay, that’s the last fake-Britishism gloss. Promise.(Back)

Note 9 Because the library also owns the following: 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days – And How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! by Dean Karnazes.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I rest my case.(Back)


  1. Hilarious! I had so much fun reading this. I was never a runner and didn't ever plan on becoming one, but after reading this blog, I just wanna let my inner marathon runner (VERY deep inside me, mind you) FLY!

  2. Immensely enjoyable read, even the notes are amusing. I may just start running!


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