I never understood why anyone would run.
If given 1-hour to exercise, I would put running near the bottom of the list.
- It's physically uncomfortable on my knees and hips.
- It's incredibly boring and time-consuming.
- I have to plan around weather conditions.
- It often leads to overuse injuries.
And probably most importantly, it doesn't support my goals of getting strong and looking good naked.
So then why do I do it?!
Because the benefits of running aren't physical, they are mental.
Let's skin this cat early.
If you're like 95% of people who want to be generally healthy, look good naked, and have more energy.
Choose weight training.
But if you want to join the 1% of Americans who run for the mental benefits.
Why I Decided To Get Into Running
I never set off to be a runner.
I honestly never thought I would run a day in my life.
But there is something magical that happens when you decide to do something you never thought you'd do.
I was a fat kid growing up.
My mom will tell you that I was still growing into my body.
I love her for protecting my ego... but she's wrong.
- I loved Code Red Mountain Dew
- I loved pizza rolls
- I loved gummy snacks
- I loved pop tarts
But above all else, I loved video games.
A poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle made me a fat kid. Not my genetics.
I knew I had a problem when I had to run a fitness screening test in gym class in middle school.
The test was simple.
- You determined your resting heart rate.
- You run a mile
- You time how long it takes your heart to get back down to resting
It took my heart a long ass time to come back down.
I knew I had a problem.
But I was still unwilling to change.
I continued my lifestyle choices until I got into high school.
The hormones started flooding into my body and the idea of having a girlfriend consumed my existence.
It was towards the end of high school that I had my first girlfriend.
Like most first loves... it ended.
It spiraled me into the darkest depression of my life.
I distinctly remember being in my parent's basement and having suicidal thoughts.
Luckily, my loving mother was going to the local YMCA at the time and invited me to the gym.
Willing to do anything not to be so miserable, I obliged.
Went to the gym, lifted some weights, and left the gym feeling a little better that day.
The trend continued for a few months until I eventually pulled myself out of that depression.
In a lot of ways... exercise saved my life.
I've been lifting weights ever since.
This new healthy habit lead to all sorts of other healthy habits.
- Eating more protein
- Tracking my calories
- Choosing whole foods
- Going on walks
- Playing sports
Running though? Not a chance... boringggggg.
My First (Chosen) Run
I worked as a lifeguard for most of my young life and so looking good with my shirt off was important to me.
In an attempt to get lean, I decided to give this running thing a go.
I hooked up my iPod, put on Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III album (I still love this album), and hit the streets.
I lasted about a month before I quit.
It was boring, and painful on the joints.
I also eventually realized that 6-pac abs are built in the kitchen (i.e. diet).
15 years later
I moved to Austin Texas (you can read that story here.)
In downtown Austin, there is a 10-mile trail around Lady Bird Lake that is a hub of walkers, runners, and bikers.
I was living right on the trail at the time and would walk the trail daily.
I would argue that this trail is one of the most fit, active, and healthy communities in America.
Everyone, and I mean everyone on this trail is in good shape and is motivated to get into even better shape.
I'm a pretty competitive guy and so being one of few people walking this trail, I felt like a schmuck.
I decided to join the ranks and start running the trail.
I still didn't love it, but I did feel like I was part of something bigger than myself.
Cool people, great vibes, and good energy.
It was motivating to run beside so many other healthy and fit people.
It was also around this time that I was getting more involved with the fitness communities in Austin.
The community that stands out the most is Bare Performance Nutrition (BPN).
Talk about a group of savages!
To get more involved with this community, I signed up for their Go One More Marathon.
How I Became A Runner
We are always willing to do more for others than we are for ourselves.
I hated running.
I never wanted to run.
Yet, I found myself signing up for a marathon.
Purely because of the community I wanted to support.
I honestly didn't think much of it. I thought it was going to be easy.
"Just follow a marathon training program."
"It will be so easy."
"I'm an athletic guy."
Boy was I wrong.
It taught me more about myself than I ever imagined.
Here are the biggest lessons learned. 👇
Sign Up For The Thing
This is perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from this entire experience.
The power of signing up for the damn thing.
After I put my money down and got that confirmation email in my inbox, something clicked in my brain.
"Oh man, I didn't know you were serious! We're doing this now. I better figure out how to make it happen."
This isn't just for becoming a runner.
This has implications in every area of your life.
Want to travel to Thailand?
Buy the plane ticket.
Want to make more money in your business?
Buy the sales training course.
Want to learn Spanish?
Hire the Spanish teacher.
Want to run a ultra marathon?
Sign up for the race!
We so vastly underestimate the importance of the first step.
Things you previously thought were impossible suddenly become real when you commit to them.
Humans are the most resourceful creatures on the planet.
You'll figure out how to get it done. Or die trying.
Running... How hard can it be?!
I had never run more than 3 miles in my life and I had 3 months to train.
The first go at it was a run to the gym that morning.
To and back from the gym was 3 miles.
Piece of cake.
I decided to do it again the following day... and again the day after that.
This is where the problems arose.
Too much, too fast.
Something you should know about me is that I love health and fitness.
It's part of my identity.
- I love weight training
- I love saunas and ice
- I love eating healthy
- I love going on a walk
- And now I love running (well not yet, but we'll get to that)
Consistency is my superpower.
So developing a running habit wasn't the issue.
The issue was that I had never run before... nor did I know how to run.
This resulted in injuries... and fast.
I develop IT band tendonitis... eventually in both legs.
This was the beginning of the self-doubt.
- "Did I give myself enough time?"
- "Can my body hold up that long?"
- "Did I bite off more than I can chew?"
- "Am I built for this running thing?"
This was also when I realized there is a depth to running I had never anticipated.
- Stride length
- Foot striking
- Short days
- Long days
- Temp days
The list goes on.
I realize we're talking about running.
But this has implications in every area of life.
You know so much less than you think you do.
Take the chair you are sitting on for example.
Seems simple enough
- 4 legs
- A seat
- Maybe a backrest
How hard could it be?
Well let's see.
Things you probably didn't consider.
- Top rail
- Cross rail
- Back post
There is a depth of knowledge to what it took to build that chair that goes so far beyond anything you could have ever imagined.
You probably don't even think about it. Nor should you. You can't (and shouldn't try) to be an expert on everything.
Here's the bigger lesson.
Everything, and I mean quite literally everything has a depth of understanding that you will never learn until you take the journey down the rabbit hole.
Expect to be surprised by how little you know.
Especially when it comes to running.
Make It Social
I said it before and I'll say it again. We will always do more for others than we will do for ourselves.
About a month into training, a buddy of mine posted on social media that he was going for a 12-mile run around Lady Bird Lake.
Me - "Hey bro! I'll join you for the run tomorrow but will probably dip off at mile 8!"
Him - "Sounds good man!"
8 miles in and 4 miles to get to my e-bike... fuck it I'll stick it out.
This was the first time I ran 12 miles... at a sub-9 minute pace at that.
There is no way I would have done this without them.
But here's what was pivotal about this moment.
It showed me what is possible.
Before that moment, I didn't believe I could do it.
It required me to get around other people that were ahead of me.
Here's the bigger lesson.
Get around the people ahead of you and watch yourself rise to their standards.
Give It (mostly) Your All
Running 12 miles was a massive accomplishment for me.
But it was still far from being prepared for a full marathon.
I was 3 weeks away from the race and it was becoming glaringly apparent that the only way I was going to be able to do the full marathon was to go David Goggins on this thing.
To show up on race day unprepared and give it everything my body could mustard.
I respect Goggins... but I don't strive to be like him.
I didn't go full send mode... and I have no regrets about it.
It wasn't worth an injury to me.
I emailed the people organizing the race and had them change my ticket from a full marathon to a half marathon.
Sometimes, we have to determine what price we are willing to pay.
Could I have totally sent it and butchered my body to complete a full marathon?
Yeah... probably... but my why wasn't big enough.
I signed up for the race to be closer to the BPN community. I was already doing that regardless of which race I finished.
Running... for me was an accomplishment in itself.
I love a good David and Goliath story as much as the next person.
But in this scenario it simply wasn't worth the price that needed to be paid... and that's ok.
Here's the bigger lesson.
Challenge your beliefs
Test your limits.
But only if it's worth the "why."
It took me a long time to learn this, but the benefits of running were never about the physical aspect.
That's always come from my weight training.
It's the mental benefits that I didn't anticipate.
The time on the trail to watch the chatter in my skull.
It's quite hilarious at times.
- "Oh, you could never run that far that's crazy!"
- "I bet you could do one more, you're a savage"
- "Man, you're really tired, you should probably take a break!"
- "People run 100 miles, you damn well know you can do 10!"
- "Do you think you could run one more mile?! No way!"
- "How far do you think we can push this meat sack today?!"
- "You better slow down! You're going to injure yourself!"
- "Wow, I feel really good, I think I could run 20 miles today!"
- "There is no freaking way I'm running today, I'm exhausted!"
- "Woah... I forgot we were even running!"
If you've ever meditated, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
That's what running is for me... meditation.
It's solitude with the madness that is my mind.
I often wish that there was a chat bubble above my head while I run.
That way, when people see me running they would realize that I'm not running to get fit.
I'm running to battle the demons in my head.
We all have two voices inside of us.
The one that says "You got this! You're incredible!"
And one that says "No way, you've never done this, what makes you think you can now?"
The one that speaks the loudest is the one that you feed the most.
Here's the bigger lessons here.
If you're running for the physical benefits, you have it twisted.
Run for the mental benefits.
Your mind will thank you for it.
I've made the mistake of neglecting my relationships in the past (you can read more about that here.)
I know better than to make that mistake again.
Here's what's interesting about me getting into running.
I didn't start this journey to win the race.
I didn't start this journey to be a world-class runner.
I didn't start this journey to check a box off my bucket list.
I started this journey because I believe in connection.
I started this journey because I believe in community.
I started this journey because I believe in relationships.
I've met some pretty incredible people in my life.
But the running community is one of the most supportive groups I've ever been around.
Not because there is anything innately special about the act of running.
But because it attracts people that want to challenge themselves.
I still talk to the people that I met on the journey of learning how to become a runner and guess what.
They are the type of people that work towards goals... and accomplish them.
I can't think of anyone else I'd want to be around.
Y'all know who you are.
- Sign up for the damn thing.
- There is always more to learn than you expect.
- Do the thing with others that inspire you.
- Know your limits.
- Run for the mental benefits, not the physical.
- Relationships are everything.
If you're interested in learning more about running, contact me here.
Hope you enjoyed this one, my friend.