Running is something that is a taboo topic for most people. It’s something that brings pain to the body that most do not enjoy. Other people, like myself, find running to be one of life’s gifts to ourselves. Running is the optimum way to get in shape and improve your overall wellness. Although, it has some risks associated with it, such that of injury.
Injury, in my perspective, is your body’s way of telling you that you’re pushing yourself to hard. Smart training and proper nutrition gives one’s body the perfect balance to avoid injury and prolong a career in running. Now, when I say career, I mean the allotted time you spend running throughout your life. That could mean running recreationally or training to run in events such as 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, full marathons, or, if you’re brave enough, and ultra run (50k, 100k, 100mi, etc…). Whatever the reason, it is my belief that everyone has the same opportunity in life where they can take up this amazing escape before their body gives in to certain factors that come with aging.
I’m 20 years old and have been running avidly for about four years. Running has changed my life in ways that I cannot even describe. Originally I began running my junior year in high school because I wanted to lose weight. People used to make fun of me because of my weight and it didn’t make me feel good emotionally and physically. The teasing was just one motive I had to lose weight, but I knew that I needed to push myself hard to get my body to where I wanted it to be. I needed to be able to respect myself and I needed a way to release stress. I began my weight loss journey at 215 lbs. I’m 5’11” so it’s not like I was a gigantic guy, but I’ve always been real self-conscious about my weight and once people figured that out, they knew that I’d be an easy target for harassment. During the beginning stages of my weight loss I struggled mentally and physically. I couldn’t find that passion or fire for working out that I now prize today and so it became an uphill battle. The first couple of months I didn’t make hardly any progress, but, I began eating better and feeling better and the workouts started to come naturally to me; it became a habit. Now, let me tell you that I did a majority of this by myself; there was a period of about 3-months where I had a “trainer”, but he was more like a group trainer for youth athletes in the area where I grew up. I did make progress when I worked out with him and the group, but once I was done with them, the weight was placed on my shoulders to accomplish what I had set out to do.
From the period of October 2011-April 2012 I got myself to a manageable weight of 185 lbs (Originally my main and only goal), but I wasn’t satisfied, so I kept running and strength training. The Summer of 2012 (Going into my senior year) was one in which I created my own weekly workout routine in my backyard and on the streets of my neighborhood. I can remember my dad always laughing at me because I would run laps around my backyard that was maybe 15 yds in length and 10 yds wide. Trust me, it took some mental toughness to get through 30 minutes of running in that small of quarters. It got to the point where I had a track going around the yard of the dead grass that I constantly trampled. My dad used to get pretty made when I made big divots in the grass from throwing down my loaded bar down after doing front squats because when it came time for us to move later that summer, he had to fill in the numerous holes and re-seed the yard. Anyway, that summer progressed nicely and I returned to school that fall for my senior year with my weight down into the 160s! I was astonished, but I still wasn’t satisfied.
I continued, from that point on up until last May 2014 (end of my freshman year in college) to do a combination of running and strength training during the week because it helped me keep my weight at a constant level. Last year I came to a point where I started to question what I was gaining from lifting weights when what I really loved to do was run. I knew that I didn’t want to big muscle mass and so I had a choice to make. Now, let me run a little off topic here by saying that I’m a huge Boston Red Sox fan and ever since I started watching them play (’06) I’ve wanted to take a trip to Boston to visit Fenway Park and take in a game in Beantown. Now, every year in about the middle of April, the city of Boston recognizes Patriot’s Day, where the whole commonwealth of New England shuts down, to commemorate the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. On this day the Red Sox play an early baseball game (~11am local time), but the big interest of the day centers on the running of the Boston Marathon. Last April, 2014, I streamed the race and watched it for the first time and admired the pageantry and witnessed the first American man (Meb Keflezighi) to win the race in many years. At that moment, a year after the horrific bombings at the finish line, I knew what I wanted and I found my ticket to finally being able to travel to Boston. I was going to start running longer distances and run in marathons and progress enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Originally I didn’t intend on shooting directly for a marathon. I was going to start small and work my way to the big one. Instead I ended up accepting the challenge and set the date for my first marathon as July 27th, 2014 down in the city by the Bay, San Francisco. I struggled through training by constantly pushing myself harder and harder every day so that I’d be ready. I was so excited the morning of the race that I started off the line way too fast and suffered for it once I hit Golden Gate Park (half-way). That day I turned in a sub-par performance and finished in 4:18:51, but I finished my first marathon and that I was proud of. However, next race wouldn’t come until December 2014 down in Sacramento where, because of smarter training, I was able to finish in 3:26:26. I was content, but now I began setting my sights toward gaining speed and qualifying for Boston.
My most recent race, here in Reno on April 12th on a much tougher course, I was able to improve my time to 3:09:45, just five minutes off from my qualifying time of 3:05:00 for the Boston Marathon. This August when I venture down to Santa Rosa, CA I plan on eclipsing that time to be able to run in next year’s Boston Marathon, which just so happens to be on April 18, 2016 (my 21st birthday).
Training is hard, but when you have goals, the hard part is always put to the side. It’s in these precious moments in our lives where we have to dig deep and know in our hearts that a change needs to be made. I’m not saying go out and be a runner because something like running needs to come naturally to you and it has to be something that you want for yourself. I’m just telling you that running has changed my life. It’s become my release from the world. It’s lowered the amount of stress I feel. Imagine that, a college kid with a low stress level; must be a sweet life. For the most part it is a nice life and that’s why I’ve gotten into being a personal trainer. I want to instill that same fire that I possess for working out onto my clients and help them reach their fitness goals. Running or working out in general will change your life significantly. I’ve been able to keep my weight off for just about four years and I wouldn’t trade this fitness journey I’ve been on for anything in the world. That sense of accomplishment just feels so amazing. My huge support system, consisting of my father, mother and brothers, directly, and my other extended family members, friends, coworkers, and teachers have gotten me to where I am today sitting here at 20 years old weighing a whopping 163 lbs. I’m still learning new things all the time about health and wellness, so I’m not an expert, but I’m definitely not a novice either.