Becoming a Runner

I was 302 poundsand couldn’t run more than 500 yards without losing my breath. Though somehow, I had it in my head that I was in “pretty good shape”. The denial ran deep.

I was 302 pounds and couldn’t run more than 500 yards without losing my breath

I started with a diet. It is an understatement to say: it was hard. I was consuming only 1200 calories per day. That was a reduction of around 3000 calories from my normal gluttonous levels of consumption. During the day it wasn’t so bad, as work and whatever else occupied my mind. But the evenings I’d get serious hunger pains. To keep myself occupied I started going for walks as soon as I felt them. The walks were pretty basic, round the block, maybe through the park if I it took my fancy. This worked really well. The walk would occupy my mind and the hunger would subside.

I had tried running in the past, but for whatever reason I had always thought: Get up early in the morning, and run. Which would inevitably end at 6 AM on a cold morning with my body refusing to leave the bed. But these evening walks were simple, they gave me some time to myself, and I never had to have a battle of wills to do them. So I started doing a C25K (Couch to 5 KM) program. Which basically consisted of adding a few jogs into the middle of my evening walks.

Now just as an aside: I was not a runner. I was 6'5", 302 lbs and heavy set. When I told people I was running, I’d get responses like: “Careful of your knees!” or “That’s a lot of strain on your ankles.”

I mostly ignored them, but I didn’t over do it. When I ran, I kind of ran like this guy:

So it was pretty soft running. I never had any knee/ankle or any other kind of pain so I just kept doing it. Before long, I was doing 5 kilometers (~ 3 miles). It felt good. I was puffed at the end of each run but there was an overwhelming sense of achievement.

The transition to runner

At some point in this, running changed for me. I got past a certain threshold of fitness that running became truly enjoyable. I could run without getting to puffed. If I did get puffed I could adjust my pace (still running though) and recover. This, to me felt like I was finally a “runner”.

Things that helped me along the way

  • Garmin Forerunner 220 — This things is awesome it lets your nerd out completely on running stats. But most importantly it lets you do proper heart rate training. I could simple put it on and run in Zone 2 and my running would stay easy and my fitness would improve.
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