Finding Motivation to Run – One Man’s Story
Why I Run – AJ’s Story – Why Running Changed His Life
Most of us have been in a place we don’t want to be with ourselves. Sometimes it’s just not being motivated, and sometimes it’s realizing that if you don’t do something, your life will be cut short. That’s where our friend AJ found himself in early 2014.
Despite serving in the U.S. Army for 11 years, AJ has struggled with his weight all his life. Like most people, his job has him sitting all the time and he works nights to boot. He tried fad diets and all kinds of weight loss “tricks” that didn’t work. At 51 years old, 5’7”, and 292 pounds, AJ found himself missing out on his family vacation in Branson, MO. The “before” picture above is from this trip. He couldn’t stand or walk for more than 5 minutes without significant lower back pain, so he would sit down and have his family go on without him. AJ describes it as a miserable time.
When he returned home, he told his wife he had to do something. Doing nothing meant missing out on more family time and possibly not be around much longer. He considered weight loss surgery, but found that he would have to foot the entire bill. The shortcuts wouldn’t work, and AJ knew it. Back to square one…
As he looks back at this time in his life, just one year ago, AJ says the most important thing he did to start moving in the right direction was to realize that his lifestyle had to change. And that’s exactly what he did. He sat down, looked himself in the mirror, and made a pact with himself to get moving.
The day his journey started was May 1st, 2014. He took advantage of a stationary bike that had been collecting dust and started riding it for 30 minutes a day. Then he started walking. He set a goal of making it to the store and back, exactly a 1 mile loop. Looking back on that goal, AJ says it hurt doing it, but he refused to give up.
After work every day, he did the 1 mile loop and after just 3 weeks of doing this, he was able to complete the loop twice each day. Things were going well, but he wasn’t seeing much weight loss. So, upping the ante, he went out and found a “couch to 5k” program to follow. AJ explains that he never liked running, and hated it in the army. But when he started losing weight, he was hooked. By the beginning of August, he had finished the “couch to 5k” program and had lost 30 pounds. And, bonus, he was starting to actually enjoy running!
In October, he completed his first 5k race in 0:28:51, beating his goal of sub 30 minutes, and came in 2nd in his age group. Fantastic! Running was becoming an addiction, in a good way, and he was ready for more. So, he signed up for a half-marathon. In his own words, he had no plan, no coach, and no clue. He went out and ran every day and learned what he could from sources like Runner’s World. However, he found himself confused. Lactic acid, tempo runs, hills, intervals… what do you do with all of that? So, he just kept running, and felt good.
In February of 2015, he was ready for his first half-marathon. The “after” picture above is him on this day. He had lost 85 pounds since his journey began, most of the way to his goal of 175 pounds. His goal time was to be under 2:20:00 and he crossed the finish line at 2:19:58. Awesome!! He knew nothing about proper fueling, pacing himself, or what to expect, so hitting the wall at mile 11 wasn’t fun. But he did it, and plans on doing it again in April of 2015 with a new goal of 2:15:00.
AJ’s story is amazing. He went from non-walker to full on runner in a matter of months and improved his health in a way words cannot describe. He says “running changed my life”, and I think that is apparent when you see all that he has accomplished. And he’s just getting started!
And our favorite quote from AJ:
“I sure wish that I had come across RUNfit 365 a little sooner. I cannot wait to download one of your programs and train correctly. I was just on iTunes searching running and RUNfit was the first one I saw. It took me two nights of driving, but I listened to all 22 podcasts. I have learned more in those 2 nights than all the months that I have been blindly running. Now hopefully I can get on track to continue my journey.”
We have no doubt that he will continue his journey, and has many personal records in front of him. What is your story? Don’t have one yet? Go out and write yours now!
Also, for more helpful information, consider reading one of our blogs on the following:
Dan Cuson – Level 1 USAT Coach