Many people do things for many different reasons. Some people choose to be lazy and sloppy and do nothing other than work, eat and sleep. That used to be me. But I was never happy with that lifestyle. On occasion I would tie on running shoes and head out the door. There were numerous starts and stops. Aches and pains were commonplace. I ran a 10k. Even then I was not “happy”.
Then one day I looked at myself like a disembodied soul. What had I become? Pictures showed someone in pain. Ill at ease. Uncomfortable in most social settings. But mostly aware of the damage I was causing myself.
I had struggled through the years with maintaining what I thought should be reasonable physical appearance. I always hated to see pictures of myself. ”Bloated” comes to mind.
During the summer of 2006 my family moved to Myrtle Beach, SC so I could begin a career in real estate (I know - great timing). That fall when not working I spent time depleting a free stash of mini-bottles that came my way. Not the smartest move. At some point during the next year I laid out a set of goals - business, financial, personal. One of those goals was to complete a marathon. It was not a real desire of mine. I thought it would look good on paper.
My return to casual jogging after four or five years off came in May 2007. My mom gave me an iPod for my birthday. After a few months I paired it with the Nike Plus tracking tool and started jogging around the neighborhood. Nothing long. Nothing far. But heat and sweat and pain always drove me back inside. That fall I managed to put some miles together and pulled off a couple of 10 milers. Then I was done.
The next fall (Thanksgiving 2008) I was still in a bad place physically. While at Barnes & Noble I spotted The Non-Runners’ Marathon Trainer. It looked interesting, but really? Logan run a marathon?? You must be joking!?! Sometime over the next week I rediscovered that goal sheet; the sheet with “complete a marathon”. Suddenly the idea did not seem sooo crazy. I went back, bought the book and began reading. IT WAS SO SIMPLE!!! The book had 16 chapters, one for each week of the program. I was to run four days each week. The mileage for each day was on the page. Each chapter covered a different aspect of long distance running - form, visualization, nutrition, hydration, etc. But the writers left out “speed” or pace. Finishing on two feet was the key. Time goals are irrelevant for the first timer, the non-runner.
Well I followed the plan. Made notes in the margins. Even dropped 15 pounds in time for a Caribbean cruise and managed to run while aboard ship. Even ran once shirtless! GASP!!!
As for the goal of completing a marathon I did not have a goal race in mind. I got the inspiration too late to sign up for the 2009 Myrtle Beach Marathon in February. I was aboard the cruise ship the day of that race anyway. The next best thing for my timetable was to map out 26.2 miles in my neighborhood. One loop through cul-de-sac hell is 7.5 miles. Three and one half loops through should do it. Long story short I made it. It was hell. Thank god my wife was willing to get saddle sore riding a bike along side me for the final 8 miles. And five days later, after the pain and soreness faded, I was hooked.
I did have some inspiration for unexpected sources though. For a while I subscribed to a certain - ahem - gentlemens’ quarterly that most people “read” for the articles. One month in fall 2008 there was a feature on supermodel Carol Alt. When I was teenager I had a poster of Carol on my wall. I was in love. But that was a long time ago. So I “read” the article and thought “so what”? Then I actually read the article and realized Ms. Alt was FIFTY YEARS OLD at the time. OMG! She is/was gorgeous. Her secret was a raw food diet. Whoa! That’s different! But this got me thinking about what is possible regarding diet and aging and how the right foods can really make a difference in one’s life.
At the same time I started reading the blog by Steve Pavlina, a Las Vegas-based Internet entrepreneur and all-around deep thinker. He had a series of posts on self-discipline. Suddenly my mind was set ablaze. Steve’s writings covered a broad range of topics but everything came back to being responsible and accountable. He is also a raw-foodie and runner.
The marathon no longer seemed so daunting. I had a text-book plan. I had insight to the benefits of a healthy diet. And I was beginning to develop a more self-disciplined approach to attain my overall goal.
But never once did “weight-loss” figure into my plan. I did not focus solely on getting “in shape”. I did weigh and record my progress daily; however my focus was on the mileage.
The next great leap in my evolution as a runner came in the summer of 2009. Danny Dreyer is a runner and developer of an instructional running program call Chi Running. It is based on principles of Tai Chi and efficiency of movement. Through the fall and winter my running became less labored. I will save all the boring details of races entered and finished. Another started and left undone. But what is important is that Chi Running drew me back into myself. I centered onto my form. Movement was key. Doing something not for the sake of doing but with intent to do it better. I am forever grateful to Danny for sharing this program.
One day I realized I had been running for over an hour and did not care to stop. No longer a means to sneak in exercise, my running became an escape. A portal to freedom and release. A way to set myself apart from the herd. And recently I discovered running is a way to join “the herd”. I cannot imagine not running.
I run for family so I may be “here” for decades to come. I run for friends, either kindred spirits in the race of life or as an example of what can be achieved with effort and dedication. Yet in the end, and forever more, I shall run for me.