Here is my experience with running over the last 3 ½ years. I started running again when I began this health journey 3 ½ years ago because running was the one sport I knew I could go back to doing. I had not consistently run the previous ten years. What I quickly discovered is this: it is very hard to run with a lot of extra weight. At the time I started I was 75 lbs. heavier than I am now!
I always tell people that running did not make me thinner. It was the “running” that actually gave me the motivation to lose the weight, eat healthier, and make long term changes toward improving my health. The thought of running marathons again had me seeking out the best and healthiest options to support a running lifestyle.
As a part of the journey, I also gave up alcohol. I decided that running was more important and it led to more positive benefits without having alcohol. This was the best decision I ever made.
Without these changes, I would have continued down the road towards chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. I was feeding a lifestyle that would have led to a shorter, miserable life. That old lifestyle was slowly killing me from the inside.
As I learned more about other runners, especially Ultra runners and endurance athletes, I quickly discovered that eating a plant-based diet was the best way for me to do the type of training I wanted to do. You cannot go from the couch to a marathon in 18 months by eating donuts – or at least you can’t do it and enjoy it! I wanted to maximize the overall running experience, limit injuries, and recover faster so that I could quickly do more.
After that first marathon in Dec 2012, I ended up running four more (two back-to-back in two days) and added in my first 50K Ultra, all within 14 months of each other.
So yes, running did save my life because it gave me purpose for becoming a healthier me.
I often hear people say they hate running or they hurt when they try it. I say you have two options – keep at it and work on your fitness, or find something else that appeals to you.
My challenge is this: get out the door, find something that excites you, and go after it with all you got.
The passion will drive positive changes if you let it.