Last year I lost 33 lbs in 5 months. For those of you who would say that I did not have 33 lbs to lose, take a look at my pictures from March of last year. Yikes. By the way, this post is long. You have been warned. No complaining or making "humorous" comments about how long it is because I warned you. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. There's a monster at the end of this book. Please continue...
I love to run,
it makes me smile.
I think I'll run
Just so there be no pretenses, Matilda is not going to be mentioned today. This entry is entirely about yours truly and his tendency to run. If you are not interested, you are welcome to go entertain yourself on someone else's blog who most surely has thrown a fresh batch of jpegs of their little bambino on their blog. It won't be long until the next post about the babe. Come back then.
Here, however, you will find my thoughts on running and how it has changed my life. At the bottom you will find ten tips for those of you who want to start running, but do not know how. I promise it will be somewhat entertaining, too.
I would not call myself a fat child, but I had a nice round face. I always played in the city league basketball, soccer, little league baseball, and was decent, but not great. Not even really good. I stayed short for a long time (my freshman year of high school I was 5'2", 115 lbs), and throughout my grade-school years I was just slightly rotund. To give you an example of how good I was at sports, allow me to recount one incident from a city league basketball game. It was a fairly easy game for the skilled players on my team. We were ahead by about 30 points in the beginning of the fourth quarter. I had been in the game once already, but after my 15 seconds were up, I missed the cue that I was supposed to come out and stayed on the floor. As I faithfully ran down the court on offense, I was suddenly tripped and immediately dragged off the court by my t-shirt. Only when I saw the scarlet hue of my coach's face and heard the giggles from the parents section did I realize I must have done something stupid. Sure enough, there were five other players on the court. Whoops.
Back to the story, though. I somehow made it back in the game and actually got the ball! I went to pass it immediately--whenever I held it for more than two seconds, bad things happened--and the ball sailed clear across the court and into the stands. The referee blew his whistle, and I anticipated the call, "Excessive suckiness by the rotund one and safety-goggle-sized spectacles. You're outta here!!" Imagine my surprise when I heard that he called a foul. On whom? I may have been a chunker, but I was not stupid. Au contraire, I was one of the nerdiest kids in the class. I loved all things Mario, I did math for fun, and I could out spell anyone within ten years of me. AND I knew that to get called for a foul, someone had to touch someone else in an aggressive manner. My guess is that the ball went so high, the ref thought it was a shot, but it was such a bad shot that someone must have sucker-punched me in the kidney. At any rate, I got my two shots--more than I had taken in my four previous years.
First shot went straight to the referee. I think he thought I was checking it or something because he threw it back and motioned like I was supposed to shoot the ball. Luckily, my second first free throw hit the backboard, which is all I was hoping for. The second one, however, went in!! The parents' section erupted! Standing ovations, my mother was sobbing tears of joy, teammates gathered around to give high fives and butt-smacks. I think they just called the game right then and there. I think they carried me out on their shoulders. A good day. I celebrated with a few hours of goomba stompin'. I may have even made it to World 8 without warping or continuing. Very good day.
So that was my experience with city league sports. I have similar tales to tell about soccer and baseball, but already this is getting lengthy, and there are miles to go before we sleep.
School was another experience entirely. From 5-8 grade I attended Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School. No, it was not private, that is just what it was called. In sixth grade you could start trying out for sports, so I did. Soccer: rejected. Basketball: rejected. Baseball: rejected. Volleyball: rejected. I did not even make the second day of try-outs. Sometimes at the first break in the try-out, the coach would say, "Five minute break everybody! You, don't bother coming back." Of course he was talking to me. Oh yeah, school play: rejected. I was, however, the lead trombonist and got straight A's, so life was okay.
So after that eventful sixth grade year, I came back for another round. Soccer: rejected. Luckily, my friend JR told me that there existed a team that did not cut anyone--Cross Country. Well, duh! They run for fun. But the notion of not getting cut was very appealing, however, so I joined.
If he could have cut me, he would have. I came in last every practice, and pretty close thereunto at every race. A boy from my church group ran for the high school cross country team, and one day decided to make small talk with me. "So how did you do in the race this week?" he asked. I replied that I came in 125th. He laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed (runners have good endurance). There were only 130 people in the race.
But I never walked. However slow I ran, I never walked.
I kept it up through my senior year of high school. I got better, but being a late bloomer, that chunk just really wanted to hold me down. My sophomore year of high school, we moved from Vermont to Utah, and the coach made me run with the girls' team. He said I could not hold the guys team back like I was. But I kept running. Luckily there were guys like Brian Lindsay who were nice to me and made me feel like I was a worthwhile part of the team. Luckily there were a lot of cute girls on the team, and we became good friends. A couple of the girls and I started going on morning runs. And I started to get good.
By my senior year, I was the number three or four runner on a team that came in sixth at the state meet. And I was hooked for life. This was in the year 1999.
2000-2007 I graduated from high school in 2000. I would go running sometimes, but it was far more fun to go on Wendy's runs and get a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. It was more fun to take the set of bowling pins I bought from the local bowling alley and go bowling down our dorm hallway. Then I went to Italy.
In Italy, as part of the rules of the mission, you could never leave your companion except to use the bathroom. We also got up every day at 6:30 AM and worked until 10:30-11 PM. Not many of my companions wanted to go running (understandably), so I did not.
I returned from Italy in July of 2003, and from that point never began a regular running schedule. When I got back from Italy, I weighed about 175, and stayed right around there for the next four years. I also took nearly every sports and dance class offered at BYU. I am now exponentially better at sports, and am one of the better players on any soccer, basketball, or volleyball team that I play on. Boo yeah.
I graduated from BYU in December of 2007. At this point, I was no longer on BYU's Folk Dance team, which kept me somewhat in shape, and working full-time. With little to no physical activity, my weight quickly ballooned up to 188, and that is when the alarm went off. I was NOT going to allow myself to hit 190 lbs. It also killed me that the National Institute of Health Body Mass Index said that I was technically "Overweight". So I began to run.
I think early March was when I began running. I went every day, Monday through Saturday, and did not miss a day for close to six months. At the beginning it was horrible. I had run a few 1/2 marathons back in my golden days of running, and on the first day of running, I could not make it around the block. And I was horribly sore the next day. Four advils and a good playlist later, I made it out the door for day two, which I think was the hardest day. Even worse than day one. Day three got fractionally better, and so on.
In April, I ran the Salt Lake City 1/2 marathon and did decently, coming in just under two hours (about a nine minute mile). I then won a contest and was flown out to San Francisco to run the SF Marathon. I came in just under 3 hours 40 minutes - about an 8:30 mile. I then ran the St. George Marathon and finished in 3:29:17, just under an 8 minute mile.
My shirt size went from almost-a-large to a small. My waist went from 34 to 30. Many articles of clothing that were too small in March were ridiculously large in August. My weight went from 188 at its highest to 155 at its lowest. I have so much more energy now, and feel so much better about myself too. I focus better at work, I naturally want to eat better, and people that I have not seen since last year are amazed at the transformation.
It was tough training for a marathon! Damn tough. One of the hardest things I have ever done. But luckily, although I do not have a penchant for natural sports ability, I am gifted with a Biggie-sized helping of determination. When I set my mind to something, come hell or high water, I do not back down.
So that is where I am now. I had stopped running regularly since the St. George Marathon, and just last week began my daily runs again. I am signed up to do the Canyonlands 1/2 Marathon in early March, then either the Salt Lake Marathon in April or the Ogden Marathon in May. I'll try to get in the St. George Marathon again in October, go to the New York City ING Marathon in November, and hopefully hit up the Boston Marathon in 2010. For that, I need to knock another 20 minutes off my time (about 7:10 minute mile) and finish one of the marathons under 3:10:00 to qualify.
One of the main reasons for me writing this post was to give myself the motivation to keep going, and remind myself of my roots.
The other is to hopefully provide a few of you with the determination and motivation to get out there and run. It is one of the easiest and most efficient ways of losing weight fast and keeping it off. The good news: when you are running 60 miles a week, you can eat whatever the heck you want, and a lot of it, too.
A few final tips for those of you who want to start running:
1. Start tomorrow. Don't say that you'll start next week, or when you get more time, or when you're not sick anymore, or whatever. Believe me, you will ALWAYS be able to find an excuse not to go running.
2. Go in the morning. It is easier to trick yourself into doing something you don't really want to do if you do it before you realize what you're doing. You'll feel better throughout the day and sleep better at night. Plus there is something magical about the smells, sights, and sounds of the world before it wakes up.
3. Go every day. If you try to start out every other day, you lose a lot of momentum. Going every day makes the decision for you whether or not you will go running tomorrow. The answer is always yes! But...
4. Take one day off a week. Sunday is my day off, but you may choose whatever day off you want.
5. Start easy and slow. Even if you were once a runner, or you know you can run 3 miles does not mean you should. Find a distance that you can do every day without killing yourself.
6. Keep it easy and slow for a while. I have known too many people who start feeling good about where they are, so even though they are running 2 miles a day, they go out and run 8 miles one day. They then hurt themselves and have to take a few days/weeks off, and by the time they are better, the momentum and motivation has waned, and they never start again.
7. Stretch. I do not warm up and stretch before I run, even though I would recommend it, but I do stretch thoroughly after every run. Focus on your quads and hamstrings. Most start-up injuries are caused by improper or negligence towards stretching. Use RunnersWorld.com as a resource.
8. Strengthen your core and auxiliary muscles. Do push-ups, core exercises, and go lift weights if you can. Running uses so many more muscles than just your legs, so the more your can improve your overall strength, the easier running will become. 9. Run properly. Running properly makes it so much easier to run. So many times I watch runners and think, "They are wasting so much energy by running that way." Again, RunnersWorld.com is a great place to learn about how to run properly thus avoiding injury and increasing your chances of keeping going.
10. Eat right. You are burning a lot of calories when you run, so make sure and replace them, but not with sugars and empty calories. As you are just starting out running, you probably do not even need to increase your protein or carbohydrates. If you do and run 1-2 miles a day, you will be undoing all you did by running. Eliminate sugars and most greasy/processed foods from your diet and you will be on the right track.
And a bonus tip: Find a running buddy. There are lots of people out there who want to go running, but as I have said, it is hard to just start alone. If you are married, make it someone other than your spouse. It is too easy to convince each other to get out of bed when you are in there with the person you are supposed to meet. Pick a place and time to meet, and go every day.
A great tool to keep track of how far you run each day is www.mapmyrun.com. I use it all the time to map out new routes and keep track of my weekly mileage. I love it!
And while I do not profess to be an expert at running, I do have over 15 years of experience. Feel free to disagree, or leave a comment with any questions, comments, or remarks. I hope this helps those of you looking for a little motivation, because running really is a beautiful thing.