What does running mean to you?
This morning I was thinking about how fortunate I am to be a runner. Maybe you haven’t taken the time to really consider what a blessing it really is, but I can’t help but be thankful, every day. My story is one of overcoming obesity and having a new-found sense of purpose in my life. Sure, I could have picked other things to do, like play tennis, or softball, but the result wouldn’t have been the same. Let me elaborate…
Running for me involves my mind and emotions just as much as it involves the physical side of me. Running gives me the ability to take part in physical activity that needs no real formal training unless specific goals are in mind. Basically it means, put on a pair of running shoes, (or go minimal/barefoot) and go. The nice thing about it, is that you can let your mind wander and you don’t really have to focus on skills unless you are prepping for a race. You have that ability to let go and enjoy the run. Enjoy the scenery, the people, animals and the “feel” of the run. You can be a focused runner or a fun runner. The results are the same.
When I was fighting my way back from 285 lbs, I tried to jump back into running too quickly. In my mind I was still a 20 year old runner, nice and slim and able to do any physical activity that I wanted. My body however, was 28 years older and a whole lot fatter than it was back then. The two just weren’t in sync and unfortunately I got injured. It was a serious enough injury to my peroneal brevis tendon in my right ankle, that I had to have surgery and lots of rehab. Basically from April 2010 to October I was off my foot and trying to get back to normal. My surgery involved having a cadaver graft to replace the tendon that was removed. My surgeon was very adamant that I had to be careful if I was going to try to return to the sport. Of course back then I was still very heavy and I think he knew I could re-injure myself very easily.
Looking back at all the work I had to do mentally and physically to get where I am now, 75lbs lighter, reminds me that I am capable of doing anything that I put my mind to. For me Weight Watchers was a gift from heaven in helping me to curb my junk food binge eating. It showed me how to take control of my diet and keep it managed in a way that was easy and manageable right from the start. I had set my goal to get down to 199lbs and I have yet to get there. I seem to have plateaued at 210. It’s not where I want to be, but I’m OK with it for right now.
I recently made the decision to move my focus from the “dieting” part of me, to the “running” part of me. What I’m saying is that I made the decision to invest my effort, time and money into a running coach. I had been thinking about this for a couple of months, and really was afraid to jump on board with it because I didn’t fit the mold of the average under 30 runner. I wasn’t slim, trim and fast. I’m old, chubby and slow. I didn’t even know if anyone out there would take a chance on me as a runner. I wouldn’t be one of the few that could run the Boston Marathon, or any marathon for that matter, at least not right now.
I did some web surfing and looked over quite a few “running coaches” that were online. I finally decided to ask a fellow runner about who was training him. Pete Larson from Runblogger has become a mentor to me in ways that I don’t think he is even aware of. I went to a running clinic he hosted last summer and I’ve been following his blog very closely ever since. He mentioned to me who his coach was and that was all I needed to hear. I decided I was going to ask Coach Caleb Masland if he would be up to the task of having me as a client. Luckily, Coach Caleb said yes.
I am on my third week of training and I have to say that it’s been a bumpy road so far. Not because of the coaching, but because I haven’t done anything like this in the last 30+ years. In a lot of ways it’s like going back to high school track team days, when you were told what exercises to do and how far to run. But you know what, that’s exactly what I need at this time! Coach sends me my training for the week, and I have a little bit of leeway in it to change things if needed. The first week I couldn’t do the required exercises at all, and got very upset with myself. Then a couple of bad runs, really made me feel like I couldn’t accomplish anything. But now that I’m in my third week, I am beginning to see little glimmers of progress! It makes me hopeful that I can become the runner that I once was years ago.
I had to take 2 months off for a surgery over Christmas, and I lost some stamina and endurance during that time of no activity. It definitely set me back a bit and I became more reliant on walking segments during my running. I was beginning to think that I would never get past the walking part. Coach has given me the chance to prove to myself that I will get there, and will get stronger in time. Baby steps, one mile at a time. This week I discovered that my running segments are way faster than I thought. Now I have to learn how to reign that in, and focus on the distance part of it so that I can combine the speed and the distance together for the long haul.
In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is that I am so thankful to be given a second chance at life. I am grateful to be able to have my choice of running shoes, and plenty of road to put them to use on. I am very fond of what Mizuno calls Mezamashii runs, the ones where you can let yourself go and experience the fullness, the all-enveloping feeling of a brilliant run. I live for those days when I can have an easy run and just enjoy the whole experience.
I am hoping that if you took the time to read this post, you will take some time to consider why you run, and what your running has done to enrich your life. I will always be grateful to the other runners who have mentored me, and are currently an important part of my life and my training. My heartfelt thanks to all of you.