My running journey started a few years ago. Specifically, it started in May/June of 2018. During the early part of 2018, I had developed stress induced irritable bowel syndrome and had lost a good bit of weight as a result. And, I decided that it was a good time to start taking my personal health more seriously.
I started going to the gym, and started running on the treadmill. It wasn't pretty at first. All 300ish pounds of me lumbering along on the treadmill. But, I persevered. I kept at it.
30 seconds of running. 2 minutes of walking.
And then 1 minute of each.
And then 2 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking.
And then I decided to sign up for a 5k.
I trained all summer and ran my very first 5k race in August of 2018. I was excited and proud of myself because I was able to run the whole 3.1 mile distance without stopping.
I felt unstoppable, so I did the next logical thing (so I thought) and signed up for a half-marathon.
I spent that Fall training with some friends and on December 22 of 2018, I ran the Santa Hustle half-marathon in Belmont, North Carolina.
Along the way, I had continued to lose weight, and when I ran my half-marathon, I had dropped down to 248 pounds. A low for me in my adult life. And then I made a mistake. I took a break and started coasting.
I had ascended the mountain top of fitness and exercise…or so I thought.
I took a few weeks off from running, and unbeknownst to me at that time, I had been running with bad posture, and was only running at that time. I wasn’t cross training other parts of my body.
So, here’s what that meant: I had strong quads, good lungs, and nothing else. During my few weeks off, my bad posture and lack of cross training caused the rest of my muscles to seize up and get really stiff.
At first, I was convinced I had broken my spine…the pain was terrible. But, after a visit to the physical therapist, and some wonderful procedure called “dry-needling,” it turns out I had tight hamstrings and a strained piriformis muscle (a muscle that runs through the glute).
Those injuries put my running on pause. I endured several months of painful stretching and physical therapy; and even to this day, I struggle with tight hamstrings and piriformis pain. Several times since then I’ve tried training for some longer distance runs, but I’ve had to stop due to that recurring pain.
Even still, I love to run. I love the way running feels.
I still have goals to run some long races: More half-marathons, and a full-length marathon.
I still run 1 mile or so before I workout now everyday. It gets my body and mind ready for the workout ahead.
I also still run shorter distances somewhat regularly in my neighborhood; 2-3 miles.
I’m much more conscious of my cross training now. I’ve learned that because I do not naturally have a runner's physique, I really need the rest of my body to be strong…especially my core and low-back. Running involves the whole body!
This whole process has given me a great appreciation for how intricate and delicate the human body really is.
So, What’s So Good About Running?
-Running helped me lose weight. It may sound strange, but I think I have a sentimental/emotional attachment to it. It makes me feel like I am choosing health over unhealth. It also brings back a flood of good memories.
-Running helps me to clear my mind. Whether I’m stressed, bored, feeling down, or something else, feet pounding the pavement gets the blood flowing, the mind focused, and the heart pumping.
-Running helps me to pray. Many times, although not all the time, I will pray while I run. There’s not too much else to do, after-all.
-Running helps me to appreciate the world. I much prefer running outside, especially in a beautifully wooded area. It makes me slow down (compared to driving), and appreciate the beauties of God’s earth. One of my favorite memories running was a run through Kings Mountain National Military Park. To this day, I can still remember the plants, the birds, the smells, and the sunlight peeking through the trees. I really enjoy running where I live now, through pastures and farmland.
-Running gives me a sense of my own fitness level. Running is good for my heart, my lungs, and my muscles. And when I feel good and strong when running, it makes me feel good about my own health. (I do realize that running doesn't tell the whole story when it comes to personal health).
Running is a personal challenge, and I really do well with personal challenges. And running brings all sorts of challenges. Getting motivated to do it. Keeping a good pace. Breathing. Muscle cramps. And…hills. No runner loves the hills. But, as one of my fitness mentors, Jocko Willink, would say, “Don’t want to run that hill? Good. Run it anyway.”
-Running is an activity that can be done with friends. Do you struggle running? Run with some friends. Some of my best memories and experiences running have been with friends by my side.
-Running is fun. Go ahead; argue with me.
Books on Running
As with anything I love in my life, I read about it. Perhaps you're a runner, or trying to become a runner. Here are some books I have found helpful and encouraging.
Run Forever, by Amby Burfoot.
The Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training, by Runner's World.
Marathon, The Ultimate Training Guide, by Hal Higdon.