I used to run.
A lot. So much you might think I was crazy. This is me. I was right at about 215 pounds in this picture and I ran the 2014 Denver Trails 10k. This is the last time I raced, and one of the last times I ran with any consistency.
I started running in 2007 when I was about 265 pounds. I don’t have any pictures from that time, you will have to take my word for it. I was ashamed of myself, I was gross looking, and I was depressed. One day, I can’t even remember what sparked the interest in me, but I just decided to start running.
Like any endeavor that I have ever undertaken, my first step was to learn as much as possible about running. I read books, online articles, talked to other runners and once I thought I was prepared enough to start, I did the second step I ever take with any new interest. I planned.
I took all of the knowledge that I had gleaned and came up with a “running plan”. I wrote it out on white poster board and stuck it on the wall. I knew I was fat, and I knew that I needed to take it easy since I had been sedentary almost exclusively for the last 10 years or so.
Here is how you run when you are fat
I came up with this method. I would do a total of 20 minutes of activity.
Walk 9 minutes, jog for 1 minute, walk for 9 minutes jog for 1 minute. DONE!
I did that for about 2 weeks to help my bones and ligaments acclimate to the extra strain of hauling 265 pounds around a track. Then I continued as follows:
Walk 8 minutes, jog for 2 minutes, walk for 8 minutes, jog for 2 minutes. <— 3x a week for 1 week
Walk 7 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 7 minutes, jog for 3 minutes. <— 3x a week for 1 week
… continue on…
Walk 1 minute, jog for 9 minutes, walk for 1 minute, jog for 9 minutes. <— 3x a week for 1 week
That whole process took me about 3 months to complete, after that last step I just started jogging for 2o minutes straight, 3 times a week.
The 10% rule and why you MUST follow it.
There is a runners rule, it is the second most important rule in all of running. It’s right behind, “When Trail running, never wipe your ass with a squirrel“. What it means is that you should never increase your mileage/time by more than 10% each week. So for example, if you run for 20 minutes the first week, you would increase your time by (20 x .10 = 2) minutes.
When you are just starting it is best to just go by minutes and not miles. The math is easier, it is easier to adhere to the 10% rule, and it means you can run anywhere. You don’t have to worry about where to run since you don’t need any mile markers or anything. I continued adding 10% until I was running for 30 minutes straight 3 times a week. Then my next step was to add a day, so to stay somewhat within the boundaries of the 10% rule, I decreased my time to 20 minutes again and ran 4 days a week.
I continued this process pseudo-scientifically until I was running a solid hour a day, 5 days a week. Just to put that in perspective, I was running a total of 5 hours a week which even for the slowest of the slow was around 15 miles a week. I didn’t worry about speed, I knew that would come when I shed the weight. I just ran and I loved it.
Take two miles and don’t worry about calling me in the morning.
There were several side effects to my running. I slept better. I could think and concentrate again. I had lost 25 pounds. My depression was 100% totally and completely gone. I really believe that it cured me. It was great.
I will go into more detail in a future post, but I used to be a raging alcoholic. You hear jokes about people waking up in a ditch… I literally woke up in a ditch, on more than one occasion. There was a time when I was married to my ex-wife millennia ago where I didn’t come home one night. She went out looking for me and I am not kidding, she found me in a ditch.
I haven’t had a drink in almost 13 years, I don’t want it, and I don’t miss it. I believe that I have one of those addictive personalities and I had found my new drug, running. I started running and feeling better, and since I felt better when I ran, running more must mean I would feel better right?
I started increasing my mileage at an alarming rate. The funny thing about the 10% rule is that once you really get up there the weekly increases can be staggering. For example if you run 50 miles one week you have to run 60 miles the next. I stopped following the 10% rule and was bumping up my mileage at what I thought was a responsible rate, one mile a week. Then I met Sean.
How many are you doing?
At this point I was running about 3 – 5 miles each day Monday through Friday with a long run of about 10 miles on Saturday, (about 25 – 30 miles a week). I was at my normal running spot one day and I was doing a 12 mile run in preparation for a half-marathon. There was this skinny old guy running in the opposite direction so I would see him every lap. After about 2 hours I asked him, “How many are you doing”? “13”, he replied.
I asked if it was ok if I joined him and he said SURE. One of the most amazing things to witness is two seasoned runners on a “long run”. We had already run maybe 6 or 8 miles and neither of us was out of breath one bit. We had conversations on our runs about religion, politics, girls, anything really. The content isn’t important; what is important is that we weren’t spouting out monosyllables between gasps for air, we were talking as if we were sitting on a porch sipping iced tea.
We were running 8:30 minute miles too. Not too speedy but pretty good for a fat guy and an old man.
Sean and I met up almost every weekend for the long run, 13 miles, then 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22. Sean was getting faster and I was literally running my ass off. I was down to 190 pounds. I was never as fast as Sean since he weighed like 140 – 150 pounds soaking wet, but he would usually slow down a bit on our long runs. I was running about 10 miles every day Monday – Friday and at least 20 miles on the weekend. 70 Miles Per Week!.
Wait, you’re going to run how many miles?
Sean and I came up with a crazy idea. We would run 50 miles.
In true Ultra-marathoner fashion, (an ultra-marathon is any distance over 26.2), we didn’t do it for charity, it wasn’t an organized race, there would be no medal, no T-Shirt, no food, no aid stations. Just two guys running.
This was my first ultra distance and I made a rookie mistake. I was consuming too many calories and most of them were sugar. What I found out after the fact was that sugar can block the absorption of water by your stomach. I was drinking water like crazy and I was severely dehydrated. I had to stop running at 38 miles. I had drank maybe 2 gallons of water and had not peed in 10 hours. After I stopped running I didn’t pee for another 4 hours, and when I finally did it was like maple syrup in color AND consistency.
Sean finished all 50 miles in 8 and a half hours. We’ll say goodbye to Sean for now as he is no longer integral to the rest of this story. But he still runs today and at his age, (49), he runs ultras and usually comes in the top 10 for his age group. He has a daughter that is 6 weeks older than mine so I am quite sure you will be hearing more about him in the future.
…but you forgot your shoes.
I got hit by the Barefoot Running Craze. Just like I mentioned in the opening I read every book, article, magazine, or blog I could about running barefoot. One of the last articles I read was about a guy who ran a marathon in Chucks. I thought that if he could run a marathon in chucks, I could run a 50 miler in chucks.
At about mile 12 my foot began to hurt. At 18 miles it hurt more. I stopped running at 22 miles and hobbled over to a bench. My pinky toe on my left foot was red and swollen. I was no stranger to overuse injuries so I figured I could ice it up and be running again in a few days.
After several days it wasn’t getting any better so I went to the doctor, got an X-Ray and a diagnosis of fracture. I had to wear one of those boots, and I didn’t get to run again for almost 2 months. Unfortunately, I was never the same, I couldn’t run anymore. At least not the way I could in the past.
Five stages of grief.
There is a strange thing that happens to runners. It really is like a drug. When I couldn’t run I was in denial, angry, depressed, and I bargained the crap out of every attempt at running:
- Maybe I can just run a half a mile.
- Maybe I can run on grass.
- Maybe I can run on the beach, (CRAP, I live in Colorado, no beach).
The problem was not what you would expect. My two months or so of sedentary depression caused me to overeat and I gained back a lot of weight. When you used to run 70+ miles a week for a few years, your fitness never completely goes away. I haven’t done any running for almost 18 months but I bet I could go run a mile no problem. The mitochondria in my legs had grown larger and thus they supply me with extra oxygen when my lungs can’t. I had the opposite problem of most people who just started running. I had the wind for it but not the legs.
So every time I tried to start running again I could easily bust out 3 or 5 miles. This violates the 10% rule because my previous two months were 0 miles. Zero times 10 percent is 0. But every time I started running I over-did it. To me the idea of running 1 mile was ridiculous. I couldn’t even get warmed up in 1 mile. So I ran way too much and kept getting injured.
Come on this time it will be different, I promise
So you are probably saying to yourself if you made it this far, “So what. If I wanted to read about running, I would read a running blog you no talent HACK”. Please sir or madam, there is a point to all of this I promise.
I was writing another post where I talk about how cool it would be to “not die” so I can live to see my daughter grow up. I currently weigh 236 pounds, a guy my size should weigh about 160 to 170 so I am 75 pounds overweight.
While writing that post I decided that maybe I should try to pick up running again. Maybe with the help and encouragement of my loyal readers I could find the strength to do it this time.
The whole point of this post is me announcing that I will be starting a series of posts about my weight-loss journey and glorious return to running. I will post a short daily summary of what I ate, what I did running-wise, and I will follow up at the end of the week with my weight and a more in depth post about the struggles that week and whether or not I slipped or faltered. I will also post about ways I overcame or triumphed.
Stay tuned, and please offer any encouragement or knowledge you might have. Also, if you would like to join me on this endeavor I welcome you to. You don’t have to run, you can walk or do any of your favorite activities. Each day when I post my results, feel free to post your results in the comments and then share your accomplishments with your friends on Facebook.
Thanks for reading, wish me luck, and I hope you will join me as I attempt to “Get Sexy Back”!
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