Wait…wait…wait! What kind of title is that, huh? I’m still a runner. I just haven’t been running. You know, since the knee surgery, since the kids were born, and the job with long days and late nights. And then came the kid’s sports, theater, gymnastics, wrestling meets, soccer and basketball games.
Well, look at me now. XXXL living ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. So, I decided it was time. Time to make the change. Forget the fad diets, Atkin’s this, Weight Watcher’s that, and something called the Zone.
It’s not that I haven’t tried over the years: Gym memberships, lifting weights in the garage, that short time I tried to Crossfit. But all that didn’t help because I wasn’t fed up. I wasn’t completely serious about how I saw myself, where I wanted to be, and where I could be.
I wasn’t always fat, out-of-shape (round IS a shape!), inactive, and self-loathing. I was an active youth. I played soccer, football, and basketball. I wrestled; I loved wrestling. In the off-season, I would run to keep in shape. In fact, I guess I ran all the time in between sports seasons. I didn’t run track or cross-country, because I didn’t think I was fast enough. Or that I could run long enough. At the time, I guess I didn’t see running as a sport. It was an exercise, both physical and mental conditioning.
As a young adult, I ran at least five days a week; about five miles each morning before work. I also weight trained and played basketball and the local YMCA regularly. That is, until I tore my ACL during a pick-up basketball game. I was about 21-22 years of age when this happened. Thus, my slow physical decline began…and excuses became easier to come by.
I was in denial, of course. With every extra pound on the scale, I shrugged it off. I’ll start working out and eating right on Monday, I thought. The stress of adult life, raising kids, shift work, bills, etc took its toll and before I knew it, I found myself two years away from my 40th birthday and about 120 lbs overweight.
Turning the Corner
I knew where I was headed. I can make all the excuses I wanted, but the simple fact was that I was slowly eating myself to death. I didn’t have to look any further that my own family. Almost all can attribute their health conditions to obesity and inactivity. One leads to the other and then you can’t do anything about one because of the other. A catch-22 of ironic proportions, you might say.
Sometime between January and April of this year, I sat down and made an honest self-evaluation. I didn’t like how I felt or how I looked in the mirror. My size 44 pants were getting tight and XXXL shirt barely covered my belly when I reached for the cookies in the pantry. My asthma was at it’s worst and I couldn’t walk more than 100 ft without suffering back spasms. I could see myself in ten years: walking with a cane, staying home because my back couldn’t take it. Forget that trip to London that I’ve always wanted. I probably won’t be able to fit in the plane seat, let alone walk around the city.
So I set out a plan. Established a few attainable short-term goals and declared my biggest goal: to weigh 200 lbs or less and run in my first marathon by my 40th birthday. A tall order, yes, but definitely attainable because I used to be a runner.
Trust the Programming
I began making better choices about what I ate. Whole foods, lots of veggies. I tried asparagus again and loved it. We stopped eating fast food, concession stand food at wrestling tournaments, and packed healthy foods when traveling. Started drinking water instead of sodas. That was a big one. I went from drinking three to four sodas a day to maybe one or two per week. I actually prefer water now, when I’m not drinking coffee.
I started walking, in short spurts, on the treadmill. It was painful and exhausting, but I had to be disciplined. I had to stay the course and trust the programming. Soon, I was able to walk around the block. My wife and I began walking every other night. It was about half a mile in the beginning. We stretched it into a mile, then a mile and a half. I was beginning to feel better. The back took longer and longer to spasm.
On April 1, I began the Couch-To-5K program. That was a new struggle, but I took it slow and it’s helped me along my path. I slowly transitioned from treadmill to outdoor running and I’m now running three to four days per week. I have logged over 90 miles since I began the C25K program and I have lost about 15 lbs since April 1, also. That’s about 1 lb to 1.25 lbs per week; a safe weight loss rate from what I’ve read. It may not be a lot, but Michelangelo’s David came alive by shedding the excess: one chip at a time.
I plan to run in my first 5K this fall and I plan to run the race to completion. I’ve picked the Race for the Halo 5K/1K in Houston, TX as my first for two reasons: to give myself plenty of time to be ready (making time for pauses in training for illnesses and injuries) and because it’s also their FIRST 5K for the charity. We’ll share this day together forever.
The best lesson I’ve learned from running, so far, is measured in time. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my adult life where I wasn’t truly living. It took a considerable amount of time to get to where I’m at. It’s also going a considerable amount of time to get my life and health back. Time that can be spent measuring miles against time. It’s time I became a runner again.