Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – Philippians 3:13
Running and I have a very mixed relationship. When I was a kid I wasn’t very fast, my Dad made the comment that I spent too much time running in one place. Which is probably a fair assessment of my form and technique at age 10. When I got to middle school and high school I dreaded the running segment of P.E. class, though I eventually learned to run, I never got any real training on form or technique. Running to me was just put in the time, and I hated it. I preferred riding my bicycle, and through high-school that was my preferred way to work out aerobically. When I started college I kept in shape playing basketball with friends, walking the golf course, riding a bike to and from work. In my senior year I bought a car, and slowly stopped being active.
After joining the Navy, I started getting more an more sedentary, when it came time for the semi-annual fitness test, I’d go out and run a few times then pass the test, I wasn’t looking to improve my times and it slowly started to show. My waist-line grew and my run times lengthened, and I started to panic during the training that I wouldn’t ever be fast enough. My knees hurt from pounding on steel decks and steel ladders, and when I started post-graduate school in Monterey I was close to getting discharged or failing to meet physical standards.
Monterey was a time to get back in shape. First thing I did was rest, get my knees to stop aching at any opportunity. Then I started a mandatory step aerobics class and that strengthened my knees, we also got one of those Health-Rider that Covert Bailey was hawking back in the mid-nineties on late-night infomercials. I passed the next fitness test, but wasn’t confident in my running technique and my knees ached terribly after the test. So I knew I need to learn how to run.
About that time, Oprah (don’t judge, a good husband has interests in what his wife is interested in!) was showing how she finally got into shape the right way, with good diet and lots of exercise. So using that as a method I started a 30 day walk to run plan (what has become known as a Couch to 5k plan) and enlisted a good friend to hit it with me three times a week. So for the next month, we worked the program running along Monterey Bay which if you have the means I highly recommend you do that. And thirty days later I was running 30 minutes without stopping, and easily passed the next few fitness tests.
I hit department head school in probably the best shape of my Navy career. My next command was in Ingleside and our ship started a physical fitness program where non-duty personnel mustered at the gym and so my fitness stayed about the same, but it was still the cloud of my past readiness test failures that hung over my head as a cloud, I didn’t work out because I wanted to improve I worked out because I didn’t want to fail.
I separated from the Navy in 1999 and moved to Plano. Without the specter of the readiness test hanging over my head, I vowed to never worry about running again. I stayed in a semblance of shape, playing softball and sports with my church. Then one night, playing volleyball in the gym, I stepped wrong and severely twisted my knee. I thought I’d require surgery but through an intensive treatment with a chiropractor I was able to align my knee and strengthen the support muscles enough to not require treatment.
[Sponge Bob Announcer Voice] 8 years later
I woke up out of depression and issues to a body I didn’t recognize. Three-hundred and forty-two pounds on my frame suddenly seemed alien to me, though I’d been there the whole time it slowly grew. Pushing my waistline out, and raising the edge of my shirts up. With the prompting of my wife, I started on Weight Watchers with her. I also knew, that I needed to exercise, and that I’d gotten in shape before with running. I decided that would be my first choice in starting on the long road back into shape.
The tools have changed since the mid-nineties, I had gotten my first iPhone about a year earlier and had taken a very short walk to test it, then let it lay dormant in my app-stack for a good long while. In my social media feeds I asked questions from people that I’d seen were runners, and asked them their advice, read about couch to 5k programs and remembered my success with the walk-to-run program back in Monterey. I had my starting place.
RunKeeper has been my consistent companion, logging in all my walks, I took it slower than back in Monterey. Listening to my body, if I hurt I rested, if I felt it was too hard to do the next week, I’d go back and do the same week again. I wasn’t in a hurry, but I wanted to learn how to run correctly. I signed up to participate in a 5k for the Corporate Challenge my company competes in each year. So I had a plan and a goal to complete a 5k. My first walk/run was April 13, 2010 in a loop around my office building. My speed wasn’t very fast, (3 mph) but I did all of the intervals. Three days later I did day 2 on a treadmill, and logged the time in RunKeeper a little bit further, a little bit faster. Same with the third day, I gained confidence that I could work the program.
The next week, I posted a picture of myself after the work out on facebook. I captioned the photo “before” which really was a step of faith that an “after” was going to follow at some point. My head and heart were in the game, and the long slow race was begun. I haven’t completed an entire C25K plan, and I’m currently running with a friend that’s given me a different plan. I ran the first 5k in September, and at that point I had progressed to running more than walking, and started categorizing all my run-training (regardless of intervals) as runs. I changed my description on dailymile from “Walker” to “Runner”, and have slowly replaced my walking routines with almost all run training. Using walking and running I’m about to go over 300 miles in total training mileage, and I feel so much more confident about my training and my life.
I completed a second 5k a couple weeks ago, didn’t train or it, just went and ran it, 5 minutes of running 2 minutes of walking. Bested my previoius time by a minute, and now I’m training for race number three. I have some goals for this race, but regardless it won’t be my last. I never have called myself a Runner, but I’m slowly changing into one. All it takes is a little bit each day, slow progress each week. If I can do it, anyone can do it, including you.