Why I Run

This post I wrote for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. I thought I would share it here as well.

Some people run for pure enjoyment. Some people run as a mood enhancer. Some people run to be able to eat cookies. And some of us run to lose weight and get in shape. I fall under the last category, or at least I used to.

Just over 1 year ago, I weighed 320 (or more, I stopped getting on a scale) pounds. The picture below is me on March 8, 2014. To say I was overweight, was to put it mildly. I grew up always being on the heavy side. I always wore husky pants and was always heavier than most all of my friends. It bothered me at times, and at times I was more alright with it (probably more than I should have been).

Me at about 320 pounds
Me at about 320 pounds

It was after the picture above was taken and I looked at it, I realized how disgusted I was with myself and decided I needed to make a change and get really serious about losing weight.

In the past I had tried all kinds of weight loss programs. I did Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and tried just going to the gym random times and not really doing any kind of program. As you can guess, they all failed miserably! Weight Watchers worked a couple times for a bit, but as soons as I stopped I would gain back twice what I lost. I ended up giving up after a month or two each time because it was just not working for me. I vowed to myself, that this time would need to be different.

I looked around at my options and most were too expensive or not structured enough. I really needed something that told me what to eat, how much of it and when. I found a book by Ian K. Smith called Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds, Lose It Faster! I used the book for two cycles of 4 weeks each to kick start my weight loss and to help me figure out how to eat a bit better and when and what to eat. The book also had a bit of a workout schedule such as do 40 minutes of cardio today. That is the part that may have changed my life.

At first, being as big as I was, I really took to the elliptical machine. It was good low impact cardio workout that would burn a lot of calories and I didn’t mind doing it. As I started to lose weight and started feeling like my cardio was getting better, I found that I needed something else to really take my workouts to the next level and give me a little variety.

Now my wife and I started this process at the same time and she had been doing some treadmill running and kept telling me I should try it. I have never been a runner. I played soccer from age 5 up through high school, but was not interested or good at any kind of distance running. I resisted her attempts to get me to run, but finally gave in one day. It was TOUGH!

I literally could not run for much more than 30 seconds at a time. I struggled, but kept with it. As my weight kept going down and my cardio improved, the running got easier. It wasn’t long before I was running, doing the elliptical and the stair climber plus some weight lifting every workout. The weight started coming off even faster, and I became more and more interested in the running part of my workouts.

I was so excited one day when I actually ran the whole distance of a 5K with no walking breaks. It took me just under 44 minutes to complete it, but I think from that moment on, I was hooked. Was the time great? No. A little slower and I would be walking, but that didn’t matter. I had done something I never thought possible. I kept running and doing my other workouts and my times started to improve.

It was also around this time that my wife finally talked me into running outside. Being heavy, I was very self conscious about running where people might see me in public. Now that my weight was down and I could run more consistently, I was alright with running outside…early in the morning…when less people were around. We ran outside a few times and I told her that if I could get my 5K time down under 33 minutes, I would consider doing a 5K event.

A few weeks later, I was running near my house, and my 5K time was 32:58. My first thought was, “Crap, I am going to have to actually do a 5K event.” I decided to look at it as an opportunity to prove to myself that all my hard work was paying off and I was bettering myself. I completed my first 5K (The Scheels Paperfest 5K in July 2014) in 32:12. I was hooked! I had just run a PR (personal record) and on a tough hilly course. I was no where near the top of the results but it didn’t matter. I had run faster than I ever did before. It was at this point that my running turned from just a way to eat more calories, to a competition with myself. I knew I would never be an elite runner. I doubt I will ever even be a great runner, but I can try and be better than the runner I was yesterday. And for me that is enough. I thrive on competition and running is one of those things where you can compete with yourself to be the best you can be.

I kept running and using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to track my calorie intake. One year to the day, on March 8, 2015, I weighed in at 185 pounds. I had lost 135 pounds over the course of one year through a lot of exercise (mostly running) and counting calories. Below is a picture my wife took on that morning.

Me at 185 pounds. March 8, 2015.
Me at 185 pounds. March 8, 2015.

So why do I run? Well, these days it isn’t about just getting in shape. It is about competing with myself and trying to be the best I can be. Will I win the half marathon? No way! Does it matter? No way! I am running for me. I am running for my wife (who I really owe for getting me to do it in the first place). I am running to be able to live long enough to see my kids get married and have kids of their own. Whatever reason you are running, and whatever speed you run at, good for you! Good for you for putting it out there and challenging yourself to complete something. Whether it is the 5K, half marathon, full marathon, or relay event, good for you! Good for all of us!

 

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