Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How did all this running start?

Every runner has a story. As I took an injury morning today, I thought I should share my story. A short note on today, I am generally fatigued and just needed the morning off. I run three weekdays and will just push everything up a day, I can flexible. I was once a very active guy. I achieved a black belt at 20 and was in the army for 5 years in my late teens and early 20's. During this this time I exercised constantly, it seemed. During my martial arts days, I would exercise up to 6 hours a day. I did not run then but I did spar a lot. When I was in the military I ran a good deal. Being a combat related job we marched and ran all the time it seemed. Then I left the military to pursue more academic endeavors.

During my undergraduate studies, I still practiced kung fu so I was a good shape. I was an off again on again student for a bit of time and didn't graduate with my B.A. until I was 30. Then I was off to law school. Here is where the trouble starts. I did not know what it meant to study until law school. It seemed all I ever did was study. I woke up went to class came home and studied until I went to sleep. I did this for about 3 years. I am not a terribly gifted academic and I always felt I was behind. This is probably not true but it felt true at the time. So I gained some weight. I gained 45 pounds in my 3 years of law school. Then I got a job at a big firm. Again lots of hours with a fair amount of stress thrown in for good measure. Non lawyers have probably heard of the billable hour, well living this can be an adventure not worth retelling, suffice to say it is hard (12 hour days and some weekends). In a year and half I gained another 40 pounds. Things are not looking good for me. I am getting tired climbing stairs. So, the stressed out new father and husband heads out of the big firms and takes a step back. I started doing some less stressful law work, but it was also more sedentary than normal law work. So I gained more weight, about 20 pounds. So here I am about 105 pounds more than where I was 7 years ago. I said Yikes, well I said something more colorful but you get the idea. The worst part was that I was at the end of where I could buy clothes off the rack. I was almost to the big and tall store range. Scary thought for me, I was looking at xxl shirts and pants in the 44" range. At 6' I did not look awful but it was not good for someone who had generally been between 190 and 200 for most of their adult life. Here I was at almost 300 pounds. I was scared.

I had to do something. A woman I worked with, Lillian, was a runner. She competed in long distance stuff, half marathons, a marathon and so on. She talked about running at work and I though I would give it a try. I didn't do so well at first. I went out with cross trainers the first time and killed my feet. I did it twice more before going to my local running store. They helped me into the right shoes (I pronate mildly). Then I learned about wicking clothes, blisters, chaffing and everything else that goes with running. I started with a mile here a mile there. I was doing well and trying to get up to the Philly Distance Run. Well my intentions were better than my ability. I developed runner's knee and couldn't make it. This injury lingered and it took me about 4 months to recover from it. I tried to do too much too fast, my problem in life generally speaking. So I was unable to compete in last years event. This year I will make it. So March rolls around and I am back to the old weight again, so I make a more focused effort to run. After some time I really catch the running bug. I feel better, I lose some weight and my mood generally improves. I have been on my program for about 4 months now and I am hooked in. I enjoy running for lots of reasons (I get some alone time to think, stress reduction, health benefits, some spiritual aspects, and enjoying to be able to go faster). Starting was the hardest part. I am a runner even if it looks like jogging to others. I can now run 10 miles and can run 6 without stopping, my average run has gone from a 16:30 minute mile to 13:30, I dropped three notches on my belt and have lost about 30 pounds, I no longer have to look at xxl shirts only xl. I have a long way to go but it all started with the first steps.


Amy said...

Wow! What a wonderful story! I wouldn't wish an injury on anyone, but can I tell you that I am glad you had some time to share this story! I have goosebumps on goosebumps. And, I can relate. Out of college and into the workworld I jumped up 25 pounds and have struggled everysince. I admire you because you have lost 30 pounds. I have lost about 30, but unfortunately - it is the same pound over and over. Way to go!

*lisa* said...

great story! I think I might have to start reading your blog (and would appreciate any advice you've got to pass on). I'm just starting out myself (less than two weeks in) -- you're a great motivation!

I too have let the physical activity taper due to studying and working long days (oh, grad school) and put on a little weight that I would like to see go away.

Keep up the good work!

Tom said...

Weight loss stories help me, and I appreciate yours. You've come so far and you're very motivating. Belt notches, running times, clothing sizes all signal progress. Keep your readers updated.


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