Six years a runner, time to refresh


Still not thrilled about this race (my face kind of says it all) but at least I wasn’t the guy on the couch eating donuts and Doritos. (Photo by Maine Running Photos)

I don’t want to sound dramatic here, but on May 3, 2011, I made a life changing decision.

See, I’m 5-foot-6 and when I woke up that Tuesday morning six years ago, I weighed at least 235 pounds, maybe 240. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that is not healthy.


That’s me on Christmas 2010. I don’t really remember that guy.

At the time, I was the Sports editor at the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, and the Kennebec Journal offices had recently moved to a building across the street from the Planet Fitness in Augusta. Every day when I drove to work, I saw the gym and eventually I walked in and signed up for a membership. I guess I felt guilty driving past the gym every day and knowing that in the hours before I came into work my fat ass was sitting on the couch eating donuts and Doritos. I think I got tired of not fitting into my clothes and struggling to catch my breathe after climbing up a flight of stairs.

So yeah, I joined the gym, and with memories of 2004-05 when I had a similar awakening, lost about 25 pounds, then fell back into all my bad habits again, I tried my hand at physical activity. Instead of sitting on the couch eating donuts and Doritos before work, I’d pack a bag and spend 30 minutes on the elliptical machine or exercise bike, and maybe lift a few weights, before starting my shift.

And I stuck to it. A day became a week and before May was over, I was in a pretty good fitness groove. As I started to exercise, I started to change my diet. For the most part, I ditched the donuts and Doritos in favor of something a little healthier.

I was off to a good start, but on May 29, I took it up a notch and made a decision that — and this isn’t being dramatic — truly changed my life.

I’ve told this story before (here, here, here), so I won’t rehash all the details, but on May 29, 2011 I became a runner. Six years ago tomorrow (or today, depending on when I publish this), I did Day 1, Week 1 of Couch to 5K, and nothing has been the same since.

It’s hard to believe, looking back at where I was six years ago, that I was upset about falling apart and struggling to the finish line at the Sugarloaf Marathon last Sunday. I’m still not happy with that 4:15 finish and the fact that my body betrayed me (more on that later), but the guy who was sitting on the couch eating donuts and Doritos thought running marathons was stupid (that guy who finished Sugarloaf isn’t so sure).

The guy on the couch eating donuts and Doritos couldn’t run for 90 seconds without stopping, much less run 20 miles in just over 3 hours, which I did before the wheels fell off last Sunday.

The guy on the couch eating donuts and Doritos didn’t like to do anything for 3 hours, much less 4 hours and 15 minutes, other than sit on the couch eating donuts and Doritos.

If you can’t tell, I’m not a huge fan of the guy on the couch eating donuts and Doritos.

And I’m thrilled I’m not the guy on the couch eating donuts and Doritos any more.

The progress I’ve made in those six years as a runner is significant and worth celebrating, and I surely will celebrate by logging a few super slow miles (I’m still recovering from that marathon) at some point tomorrow (or today). However, as I look at where I am at this very moment in my running life, I know I can do better. Or, maybe I should say I can be better.

Before you start telling me to stop being so hard on myself, hear me out. I’m not necessarily talking about being a faster runner, a guy who doesn’t fall apart in the final miles of a marathon. While those are certainly thing I would like to have happen, that is not really what I think I need to focus on right now.

No, when I say I want to be better, I mean I want to be healthier in every way possible. I want to drop a few more pounds because I know life as a runner and in general will be much easier at 160-165 as opposed to 175-180 I’m stuck at right now. (I don’t need to step on a scale to know I need to drop a few pounds, I know how I feel and I can see it in pictures.) I want to strength train because I know being stronger will help me in the later miles of races but also keep my lower back from screaming and hollering every time I’m on my feet for more than 30 minutes. I want to become more athletic, because I know that will help me be a better runner and stay injury free, and you never know, maybe I’ll get back on the basketball court one of these days.

These are things I have talked about a lot, things I’ve known I need to work on for a long time, but really, I don’t even know where to start. However, as I begin my seventh year as a runner, I think it needs to become my focus. I’ll race, sure, but nothing this summer should be important to me. I shouldn’t put any goal races on the schedule and I shouldn’t care if I come close to any PRs. That’s just not important.

What is important is, much like I did six years ago, that I start the process of rebuilding and redesigning my body. I’m stealing the motto of WWE Superstar Seth Rollins (hey, I like professional wrestling, if that makes me a dork, fine, but I’m not apologizing for it) when he was working his way back from a catastrophic knee injury:




It’s time to REBUILD my body after it broke down in the final months of marathon training and in the final stages of that race.

It’s time to REDESIGN my body so it doesn’t break down in training or during a race again.

And only after I do that will it be time to RECLAIM some of my PRs.

So many great things have happened in the last six years. By focusing on the right things in year number seven, so many more great things should be waiting for me down the road.

Just don’t let me sit on the couch eating donuts and Doritos.

10 thoughts on “Six years a runner, time to refresh

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