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More than 40,000 people signed up to participate in last weekend’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon, half-marathon, 10k, and 5k races. I wasn’t one of them. Although I do run, I only go about three miles once a week. And … I hate it.

So, while I had runner extraordinaire Aurelio Herrera’s attention (I was profiling him for Desert Companion), I thought I’d see if I could get some of his good jogger juju to rub off on me. Despite his commitment to solitary focus, Herrera agreed to run with me one sunny September morning.

It was 80 degrees by the time we set out at 8:30 a.m. — more than four hours after his regular workout time. He took me on a short circuit around his Henderson neighborhood, probably less than a mile, but by the time we got back, I was soaked with sweat and panting from trying to keep up. The kicker: He said he was deliberately moving more slowly than usual so as not to drop me.

I told him about my predicament — that I run because it’s good exercise, but don’t enjoy it. How can I get better and like it more, I ask him. Here’s his advice …

  • Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
  • Don’t eat before running, don’t drink anything but water, and especially avoid dairy. If you need energy, take some honey. Generally, eat little meat and lots of vegetables.
  • Don’t pay attention to anyone around you. Listen to your body alone so that you are fully aware of how you feel.
  • Pay special attention to your breathing. It will tell you if you can go faster or should slow down.
  • Sign up for a competition. It will motivate you to train regularly, and completing a race will give you a sense of accomplishment, encouraging you to continue.

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