Running Around Cleveland

Why I Run
May 18, 2011, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Goals, Running, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , ,

I am often asked by non-runners, “Why do you Run?” You would think this is a fairly simple question to answer.  But, for me, this is a much harder question to answer then I thought it would be. Quick answers come to mind when I am asked this, like to lose weight or I enjoy it. These quick answers are not the real reason I run. They are indeed part of the reason I run. However, the reason I run is so much more. Maybe the best way to start is by telling who I was before I was a runner, then who I have become since I started running.

I was a person who’s life was out of control. Through a serious bad decisions, unfortunate life circumstances and unhealthy relationship, I became a person with an addiction. I was also a person that used other people for my needs. I started to suffer from depression and didn’t care about myself. I also become obscenely overweight. My life was out of control. Everyone that I had relationships with saw it. But I didn’t see it, or maybe I didn’t care. Everyone told me my life was out of control, but I didn’t listen. It took the rock bottom moment, the near wrecking of my marriage and family relationships, losing a great job and the birth of my daughter to realize what I had done to myself. I knew that I needed to get control back.

This is when running entered my life. I had no control in anyway in my life, but I could control running. I could, no matter what else was out of my control, go run a mile, 0r 2, or 10. I had control over when, where and how I would run. When I was running I could focus my thoughts, I could mediate on the run. I could draw strength on the rhythm of my feet, the observation of nature, the alertness to my surroundings.

Learning how to control running allowed me to transfer that control to the places in my life that were out of control. First and foremost that control had to be put on my addiction. There is no way to correct any other problems in your life when a serious addiction is present. Addictions are powerful, they color your thoughts and motives. Breaking free from them is a hard task for anyone, and some never do. Just saying I’m not going to do this any more doesn’t cure someone. It’s a goal, but it takes a journey to reach the goal. Much like when I would go on a run, just because I say I’m running 26.2 miles doesn’t mean I am. It takes many steps to complete the journey. Each step in that run has to be intentional. Each step has to be giving your full commitment. Each step has to be taken with a full awareness of where you are placing your foot. Each step has to be taken, you can skip a single step. It was this comprehension of running that allowed me to fight my addiction in the here and now, not the long term goal that would have been unattainable. Every thought, every intention, every action had to be viewed like a single step in my run. Each one had to be done on purpose and going in the right direction. Fighting the battle against each little step was much easier than fighting the whole war against my addiction.

As the little steps were taken and the run in front of me to beat my addiction became shorter, I was able to start taking on the steps on other runs I had been failing at. I took the small steps to the end of the run that saved my marriage. I took the small steps that to the end of the run that led me to be a good father. I took the small steps to the end of the run that led me back to college and to graduate with honors. I took the small steps to the end of the run that led back to being employed. I took the small steps to the end of the run to beat my depression. I took the small steps to the end of the run to overcome my addiction. But even in all of these victorious runs, I had one journey that I was refusing to take. At times, even refusing to acknowledge.

Did you know that it’s possible to be an unhealthy runner? I know it because that is what I was. I  finished two different marathons while weighing over 265lbs.

Yes, it is possible to be an unhealthy marathon runner.

While I was taking all these small steps in other runs in my life, I ignored one glaring problem I still had. I was still basically in an addiction with food. It was easy to justify. I needed food to live. I needed extra food because of all my running. But in reality I was using a food addiction in just the same way as my other addiction, to self medicate against hurt. Yet the reality of it was that the food addiction was causing me to hurt. When I finally made this realization, I started taking the steps to end of the run to break my food addiction and be at a healthy weight. I am still on that run, but the there is less road in front me now than there is behind me. I have gone from weight of 287lbs to a weight of 173lbs. It is a marathon of a run, but I have finally made it to mile 25. I am so close to the end that nothing can keep me from crossing the finish line.

Running is much easier at this weight.

So the next someone ask you, “Why do you run?” Take a minute to really examine your answer. Think of how running has changed you. Think of the impact in has made on your life circumstances. Running has made you a different person that you would be had you not taken that first step.

By the way, why do you run?

8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Fabulous post. Just fabulous. And inspiring. Keep it up!

Comment by sugarmagnolia70

What a great story! I love hearing how people have used fitness to transform their lives. Food addiction is a hard addiction to break because it’s not like you can just QUIT eating…

I was 250 pounds, pre-diabetic and suffering from horrible depression and anxiety. I was overly medicated and used food to numb any sliver of feelings I had. Luckily I found something else I loved more: swimming. I lost 100+ pounds and started running and grew to LOVE running too! I even ran Hood to Coast last year. 🙂

Comment by Lisa

Battling and winning against one addiction was hard, but throw the food addiction in also and at times it seems like there is never a way out. And the food is so easy to justify, because I need it. Congrats on your success! And running Hood to Coast is on my list of must do races. I’m very jealous. 😉

Comment by Justin

I love to hear how you have changed your life, it’s an inspiration to so many! Keep t up and don’t stop running.
I run simply because I love it and I always have.

Comment by Jessica B.

I wish I could say I always loved running. I do now! But at times it was a love hate relationship.

Comment by Justin

You’re amazing! Keep running!

Comment by Yolanda "Walking Diva" MM#638

Such a great story. You are an inspiration to us all!

Comment by @Beal88 aka Matthew Beal

Oh Man what an inspirational story Justin. I see you increased your marathon speed by almost 2 hours. You are now 1/2 the man you use to be and twice the runner!
This is one of the best stories I’ve heard.
Terry Sentinella MM112

Comment by Terry Sentinella

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