Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for my ability to get up, go out and run.
Day #28 – You Better Run All Day and Run All Night
One of he consequences of my second struggle with weight gain and loss was having to start again with running. For most of the people reading this let me say – no, you really don’t get it … and I don’t mean that as an insult. I have taken days and weeks and even months off during the previous 23 years of running, especially during very busy work times, having kids, buying houses and so on. And I wasn’t prepared for the suck.
Losing fitness and gaining weight always makes restarting running a challenge – and of course dealing with winter cold and snow (where we lived in Massachusetts was one of those ‘snow centers’ that always got more than the top of the estimated snowfall ranges) made it even harder to stick to a routine.
There were a couple of times when I started gaining weight, and lost track of my running for a while, and had to restart. It is never fun – your body hates you, your lungs scream, and after one day you feel like ‘wow, this was GREAT!’ … then after two you regret your very existence, and by the end of the first week you curse yourself for ever stopping running before.
But to be honest, nothing prepared me for March and April of 2012. I knew I had gotten really heavy, and my fitness level was absolute crap. Whereas when I was young I still played intramural football and soccer in college, now I did nothing. Even the days of Little League and youth soccer and basketball were gone, so I was never really moving very much aside from walking around at work – and being a statistician meant loads of desk time.
I don’t know how many times I nearly broke down and cried as I tried to run those first few weeks. It was awful – and my body was having none of it. I would occasionally stop while running, not know what to do – because I had NEVER stopped like that in the previous 23 years. It was the absolute depths of despair for me – not only was I more than 100lbs overweight, I felt that my old friend running was no longer there for me … when I needed it so very badly.
And I don’t know if it was better or worse when I ran with my brother over Easter – I was just starting to get into a bit of a groove, things were just beginning to happen again … and then he and I ran while he was in the best shape of his life. And I realized that I was only running ~2.25 miles each day. I thought that based on the time I was running at least 4 … which then informed me about my pace.
And I have written about it many times before, but there I was the Monday after Easter, realizing I was running 2.25 miles per day at a pace that wasn’t even a 15 minute mile (heck, Lisa and I do 19 minute miles walking the dogs, and faster than that just the two of us!).
Over the next 6 months I cut more than 33% off my pace, got my average daily distance over 7.5 miles, my weeks up over 50 miles, ran my first ever road race, then another and another, then a 5 miler, learned a lot running a half-marathon … then ran my first marathon at 46 and was incredibly proud of myself. Because in that moment I was no longer just some guy who would jog a few miles for weight control and health … I was a runner!
And I call this time ‘Running 2.0’, because it is totally different. It has been more than 2.5 years since I got back into running, and it is now an important part of my life. It is one of my biggest hobbies, and running in great weather is one of the great joys in my life. When I go somewhere new it is a great way to explore – to the point that running around my alma mater was like an entirely new experience compared to living there for four years.
I have no idea what lies ahead for me in terms of running, racing or anything else – all I know is that I have been changed forever by my relationship with running. It has been with me more than half my life and pretty much my whole adult life. It is something that makes me appreciate my body and my health every day.
How good are you about being TRULY grateful for your ability to run?
And avoiding the cliche running videos … THIS is the one I thought of first!