Monday, July 16, 2012

Gotta start somewhere...

"Before", taken in 2009 (I'm on the left)
Three years ago, my wife looked at me with concern in her eyes and voiced (again) her opinion that I needed to reverse the slide towards obesity that I had been riding in the three years since our wedding. I had successfully lost 40 pounds in preparation for our nuptials by spending 2-3 hours at the gym five days a week, mindlessly spinning, trudging on an elliptical and weight training while watching basic cable or listening to an mp3 player.  We honeymooned in Greece, and I developed a soft spot in my belly for moussaka. I went from 180 lbs before the ceremony to 195 lbs by the end of the honeymoon, six weeks later. I did not return to the gym, and despite some active pursuits such as skiing/snowboarding and whitewater rafting, by Labor Day 2009 my weight had blossomed to 235 lbs, a body mass index of 30.2! I agreed with her assessment that something needed to be done. I was officially obese.

Returning to the gym and commiting 10-15 hours a week did not sound appealing. What could I do to increase my fitness which would not require a gym membership and umpteen hours a week to be effective? Despite abhorring running in school, I decided that for the cost of a pair of running shoes, I could be out my front door and back in 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Much more attractive. I picked the "Couch to 5K" training plan and signed up for the Thanksgiving 5K in Grass Valley, CA. The Turkey Trot.

I credit the C25K training program with providing me a solid foundation that enabled me to ease into the activity. I worried about form and injury, as I had ACL replacement surgery in my late twenties. I read "Master the Art of Running" by Malcolm Balk and Andrew Shields, which helped me focus on posture and ridding my body of tension. I bought proper running shoes after putting 30 miles on the cheap pair of tennis shoes I had begun running in. Before I knew it, I was logging my miles with the Nike+ system and shopping for gadgets, gear and clothing like a man obsessed. If Runner's World thought it was cool, I wanted to try it (so much for running being more affordable!)

Today, my weight is stable (180-185 lbs), I run an average of one race per month (I even have some age group medals), and I am trying to figure out how far I can push my body to run in one sitting. I volunteered at the Dipsea and Western States races this year, and I have been able to increase my race distances. Last weekend I passed two milestones as a runner. I ran my 2000th mile on Saturday (since I began Labor Day 2009), and logged the most volume in one week, 54 miles. This fall, I will participate in two half marathons, one road marathon and a trail ultra-marathon. I guess this running thing and I get along :)

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