Jennifer asked me to share with you all why I run. Though we’ve never actually met, Jennifer and I ‘friends’ on Dailymile and Google + and now Facebook. I enjoy following her posts on DM and reading her writings.
Unlike many people I see posting on Dailymile, this whole thing called running was foreign to me. I was never an athlete before running. As a youth, I grew up on a farm and sports weren’t something I had the pleasure of pursuing. I remember one year trying to go out for track. I participated in shot-put and discus. I eventually had to quite as my only transportation was my horse. Yes, you heard correctly, my horse.
Anyway, how did running come into my life? In order to tell you, I have to give you some background. I was in the Air Force for 22 years. I remember once back in the late 70s trying to take up running as a fitness routine. It didn’t ‘take’. I was able to run/walk my annual fitness 1.5 mile test every year and that was it. Back in 2006, I was surprised by an early Christmas present. On Dec 14th, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At 49 years old, I was devastated. After sitting down with my family and considering all my options, I finally settled on a complete prostatectomy. At my fairly young age, it seems like the only logical option. On July 16th (yes, 6 months later), I underwent the procedure.
Now how does that relate to running? Well, during my lengthy recover time, I put on a considerable amount of weight. In fact, I ballooned up to 250lbs. Considering I should weigh around 190lbs, I was extremely overweight; however, I was limited in what I could do. My body had to heal. The prostatectomy is a pretty invasive procedure. I won’t get into everything, but let’s just say there were things that had to get better before I could strain or exert myself in a number of ways. In January of 2009, a year and a half post surgery, I decided to test the body. I went to a gym and asked if I could try things out. If my body cooperated, I’d join. Well it did, so I joined. I was 50 years old!
After a month of going to the gym, my son approached me about running with him. He had played freshman football in the fall and wanted to stay in shape. I was starting to feel good about myself and thought why not. Why not give this thing called running a shot. The next morning, we got up at 5am. We did our stretching and then headed out. I no sooner got around the corner and I had to stop. Seriously, I couldn’t make it around the corner to my neighbor’s house without having to stop? Anyway, I kept going and probably stopped 3 or 4 more times before finally stopping back at the house. How far was my first run? One mile! Yep, one whole mile!
We did this a few more times that week until my son’s football coach told him he was an offensive player and he didn’t want him running. Well, there went my running partner. By then, however, I was beginning to think to myself that I could do this thing called running. For the next couple weeks, I continued to run this one mile. I was very determined. In fact, during this time, my work started a “Fitness Challenge” and I decided to join up.
I kept up the running and before long I was able to run the whole mile without stopping. Before I knew it, I was venturing out to other streets. I remember at one point, my knees really started to bother me. I wondered whether I was going to be able to continue. I was really getting into this running thing and I seriously didn’t want to stop. So what did I do? Well duh, I prayed! Yep, I prayed to the Lord to let me continue running. And He did! Before I knew it, I was able to remove all those silly braces I was wearing. I even went out and had my gait analyzed and bought a good pair of running shoes. I was slowly becoming a runner.
Over the next few months my running continued to progress. When the end of school came in late May, I was lucky enough to win the “Fitness Challenge”. I had gone from 250lbs down to 203lbs! At that point, I was probably running around 15 to 20 miles a week. I was officially addicted. I remember being at a restaurant one night with my wife and her looking at me and saying “you’re thinking about running aren’t you?” I asked how she knew and she said my body wouldn’t stop moving. At that point I knew I WAS a runner!
The only thing missing by this time was running a race. I don’t remember who it was that suggested I run a 5K, but in Oct 09 I signed up for and ran my first 5K race. Like they say, the rest is history. I have run almost 100 different distance races since then. I have my first full marathon scheduled for Sep 2012.
Why do I run? I run to be healthy, I run to be fit, I run because I can! I AM a runner!
You can find Steve on DailyMile and on twitter: