At 6’1, 260 lbs. the last image that would come to anyone’s mind is that of a runner. Yet I have run several 5Ks, 10ks and even a half marathon. A little over three years ago I had made some serious changes. After 18 years of being a 2 pack a day smoker I had quit. I joined an outdoor workout program that meets at my lunch break every weekday. I started seeing a nutritionist and taking my trainer’s advice on how to change the way I eat. At that point I weighed 315 lbs. and was in serious bad shape. I was heading down a destructive road. I knew where it would take me and I did NOT want to go that route anymore.
It all started with that “couch-to-5k” program. I basically ran as far as I could, walked a little, and then ran some more. My biggest gauge came during the outdoor class. During our Ranger Training, we are often made to run around the block that encompasses the park where we workout. At first I could barely make it one block without stopping. Eventually, that one block became 2 and then 3. Now I can run 6 or more miles without having to stop. It took a lot of hard work for me to get where I am now but it also didn’t take that long for me to make progress in how far I ran without stopping.
At this point I am more focused on things like long runs, tempo runs, speed drills, hill repeats, fartleks, and negative splits. I am constantly trying to improve my form and work on proper breathing. I am well versed in pre and post run eating. I run because I love it! I run because it helps me to lose weight, it builds endurance and enables healthier eating. I do it for the high.
I didn’t always love running. I knew it was good for me but I used to hate running. I HATED IT! I was convinced that I would never get any faster. I was certain that everyone in the world ran faster and better than I did. My biggest moment of shame came during the Philadelphia Clean Air 5k. I was about a mile out from the finish line when this drunkard dressed in a full penguin costume came waddling past me. He was having his fun but the minute he passed me I was crushed. “You let this clown pass you? You call yourself a runner?” I wanted to cry and quit right there. “Just finish the race,you fool!” I told myself. My body felt like death. I was never more miserable in my life.
I finally made it to the finish line. My wife, Morgan (fiancé at the time) was taking pictures of everyone crossing the finish line since it was a work sponsored event and several of my co-workers that we were friends with were running this race. After all the high fives and congratulations my wife starts showing me her camera. “I got Kaley, I got Patrick and I even got Mike.” I didn’t want to see how pitiful I might have looked in any picture of me crossing. I did not have to worry about that. “Sweetheart, I missed you crossing the finish line. But check this out! I got this funny penguin guy, isn’t that hilarious?”
I was finished. Not just with that race but with running all together. For the next several months, almost a year, I was out of the game. I ran during Ranger Training with Sgt. Nate but that was it. I even hated that. I’m not sure when my “a-ha” moment occurred but it did. I quickly found myself enjoying running. My pace had improved and I was on schedule to run again and I enjoyed it! I had finally found that runner’s high and I got it big time.
I’m not sure which race I signed up for first; maybe the Beast Of The East 10k Mud Run, but I soon found myself signing up for a half marathon. I followed the famous Hal Higdon’s training program for a novice. I got myself a running partner. I can’t tell you how important that is. I love running solo to clear my head or just to drift into daydream but having someone to run with is key. It helps having accountability during those cold, rainy days or just on days when you feel tired. I stuck to our training plan and finished my first half marathon at about 2:40. Not bad for a 6’1 260 lb. guy, is it?