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!

 

Week in Review – Feb 22, 2015

This post is quite a bit late, but better late than never I guess! Things have been busy around the house so I didn’t get a chance to post my training for last week, but here we go.

Training

Week Ending Feb 22, 2015
Week Ending Feb 22, 2015

This week I logged 38.57 miles in 5:28:25. Training felt pretty good all week. Sunday I didn’t have enough time with things going on, so I had to split up my long run. I did 7 miles to start the morning, and then late that evening I did another 3 miles. This was the first time I split up a long run like that. I don’t think that it was bad to do as I still got miles in, but I don’t feel like I got the best workout for stamina.

Splitting long runs is a well used tactic, especially in marathon training. I don’t think that it works for me in half marathon training. Like I said, it is great to get the miles in, but I need to also work on stamina for concurrent long runs. That said, I don’t think I will be splitting runs again if I can help it. But, when need be, it is always an option.

That is it for this week. Not much else was going on this week. Hope everyone can get out and run!

Running Safety When Encountering a Dog

Today on my afternoon run, I had something happen that hasn’t happened in the last 8 months or so of running for me. A dog saw me and actually started chasing me while I was running! I could hear it barking and then I could hear it running towards me. I could hear the tags on its collar jingling. At first it was running parallel to me across the street, but it quickly cross and approached me. As it started to approach, I stopped running. It came close and started to growl and bark. I will be honest, at that moment I was playing out in my head how I would grab the dog by the collar and wrestle it to the ground and choke it out. It was a good size dog, probably about 50 pounds or so. I shouted to the dog to go home and it actually listened. I was surprised that actually worked, but that had me thinking, what if this was a much larger or more aggressive dog? I decided to look up some tips on how to deal with dogs you may encounter while running. I found these on About Health.

 

  • Don’t make eye contact with the dog. If it sees you staring at it, it might see that as a threat.
  • Stop running, turn and walk in the opposite direction or across the street. You won’t seem as interesting to the dog if you’re walking. Also, the dog won’t think you’re trying to invade his territory if you’re heading in the opposite direction. Don’t turn around and look back.
  • If the dog approaches you, stop and stand very still. Don’t yell or make any sudden movements. In a firm, but calm voice, say, “Go home,” “Sit” or “No”.
  • If the dog tries to jump on you, turn to the side and push it off with your forearm.
  • If you keep encountering the same aggressive dog, find a new running route. You can also file a report with your local animal control.

 

Birthday Week Run Day 6

Today I finally got to run outside! What a wonderful afternoon to run. The sun is shinning, it is not too cold. The wind was not blowing like crazy. I actually saw two other runners out on the road. I don’t usually see other runners at all (I think mostly because of the time of day I usually run). So my total for the week so far is 39.31/35 miles. Sunday is usually my long run day, but since I did so much above what I usually do, I don’t want to create an over-use injury and push too hard. I am sure I will run tomorrow, but will just play the distance by feel.

run 12062014

Birthday Week Run Day 5

Today I was able to complete my birthday week goal of 35 miles. I actually finished with 35.07/35 miles. But, I don’t think I am done yet. There are still two more days in my training week (my training weeks start on Monday). I am sure I will get more miles between Saturday and Sunday, but it was exciting to actually complete my 35 miles on my 35th birthday!

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I did not receive any running related gifts for my birthday today, but last week my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got me a set of Yak Trax Pro traction aids that I can’t wait to try out! I will have a full review of them once I get a chance to see how well they work. I am going shopping this weekend for some winter running clothes so I can hopefully get out even when it is colder out instead of having to run all my miles on the treadmill.

Birthday Week Run Day 4

Today I was actually able to get to the gym at my normal time. It was nice to be back in the afternoon. The kids have swimming lessons tonight so I will actually get to go and watch them swim. I was able to do 7 miles today. It was actually a nice run on the treadmill. There were lots of people doing the personal training down on the first floor, so I got to watch them all workout while I ran. It was a nice distraction and good to see people working out. Seems like lately I have been the only one at the gym with the times I have been going. So my total for the week is now 30.02/35 miles. I should have no problems getting the last 5 miles plus more during the rest of the week, so I am very excited by that!

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Birthday Week Run Day 3

Well, I had another good run on the treadmill tonight. I am really hoping I get to run outside one day this week. It has been very cold though, and I don’t have the right clothes yet to keep me warm enough to run outside. Even if I did, so far I just haven’t had time to run until night, so the gym treadmill it is for me. I ended up doing just over 6.5 miles. I think I could have gone further, but I don’t want to over do it after the 10 miles last night. It was much busier at the gym tonight too as I went earlier than usual, but I got a machine without issue, so that was good. So total for the week is 23.01/35 miles. Just about 12 miles to go to meet my goal!

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Birthday Week Run Day 2

Today was the second day of the 35 miles for 35 years celebration of my birthday week. I went to the gym to run on the treadmill again as the only time I could get a run in today was at night. I kind of planned to do about 6 or 6.5 like I did last night. I felt really good and just kept going…and going…and going. I ended up running 10 miles on the treadmill tonight! That is the furthest I have ever run in my whole life! My previous furthest about a month ago was 8 miles. I was shocked. I actually felt like I could keep going, but the gym was about to close, and I still needed to take a shower (might as well save my water money and shower there when I can). So, total for the week: 16.5/35 miles. I think I am off to a good start to hit 35 miles by Sunday evening.

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Birthday Week Kick Off Run

This week for my 35th birthday I am planning to run 35 miles. Now this may not sound like a lot to most seasoned runners (especially half and full marathoners) but considering 8 months or so ago, I couldn’t run even a minute…I think it would be pretty amazing. Today I completed my first run of the week towards that goal.

Run 12012014