To that guy that was stuck on the couch,
It’s been nearly seven months since you’ve started running back in March of 2015. The idea of running more than a mile and a half seemed quite painful to you and simply impossible — scratch that, a mountain that you really wanted to overcome but felt the weight of the world holding you back.
I get it — winter really sucked ass. You spent most of it bouncing from illness to illness, getting sick with pretty much everything your kids brought home from school week after week. Depression was the norm, and the idea of your life amounting to much — beyond what you do for your family — was made up of just fanciful ideas and had very little grounded in reality. The honest, stone-cold truth was that you were starting to become steps away from crossing the threshhold of being overweight to being obese. You had already turned in your size 34 jeans in for size 36s about a year back, and now those size 36s were starting to tighten up on you, and even your large shirts were pleading “please replace us with extra larges!”
Dude, I know — eating food and drinking beer became a comfort thing for you. You didn’t have a lot going for you outside the home — work lacked vision and purpose, all your dreams have been put on hold, and it was much more comforting to your self esteem to just spend the evening on the couch, and eat and drink your issues to the sidelines. I don’t blame you at all, and wish you had more going for you at that time. But that’s your rock bottom, that’s your now or never to just make something happen and on your timeframe, your decision, and as your choice.
I remember you those first few weeks, struggling through the Couch to 5K program and trying desperately to run even just one mile without stopping to walk. You would barely make it that half mile and have to go from your 13.5 minute miles to walking a 15.5-16 minute mile and struggling to keep it together. It sucked. It was hard. But there was that little seed planted deep within you in the process — you need this, you need that feeling of accomplishment, you need that challenge, you need that kick in the ass, and you need that endorphin boost. Oh and you need to do something, because that 5K race you just signed up for is just one month away!
Whatever you do, just keep running. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Keep trying. Keep moving one foot in front of the other. And don’t sweat it if you have to walk half of your run — there will be those days when half of your run is actually a walk. It’s not a big deal, really. At least you’re out there making something happen. And at some point you will notice that, “hey, I can do this! I can actually run a mile, or even two!” With persistence, those two miles will turn into three, then four, five, or even more.
Who knows, with time, persistence, and discipline you’ll see those miles continue to increase with each passing month far beyond what you’d ever thought you could accomplish. But all I can hope to impart to you is to just keep running. Stop comparing yourself to others, stop taking note of all the people that pass you on the trails or all of the slim runners pounding away the miles and running sub-10s. Who the fuck cares! You’re out there, you’re running, and you’re running faster than you did just a few weeks ago — even if it’s a 13-minute mile, you’re running faster than that 13.5-minute mile you ran just a month before. You’re getting incrementally faster and it just takes time, patience, and perseverence.
And for the love of christ, stop comparing yourself to others. You’re not 6’5″ mega athlete with the legs of a gazelle. You’re not blessed with the genetics of an Ethiopian running god. You’re not some thin, wireframe of a guy with the metabolism of a 21-year-old and the ability to just run as far and as fast as you want. You’re you, and you have your own unique obstacles to overcome, and that is all you ever need concern yourself with.
Don’t worry about running ten-minute miles. Don’t concern yourself with being able to run six miles without stopping to walk or doing it with all intervals. Just get out there, run, and kick your own ass — the ass of that schmuck that’s stuck on the couch thinking that this is all life will ever amount to. You have much more in you to accomplish, far more than you’d ever dreamed you could. You will run over 300 miles this year alone, will accomplish your first half marathon, and will run a pace that will have intimidated you from the first moment you’d lace up those running shoes to get out there for the first time. Yes, you will, and you will kick your own ass!
You’ve got this. And even when no one else will revel in your accomplishments with you, or raise up a glass to you for all you’ve achieved, you will savor the fact that you’re no longer stuck on that couch, that you’re no longer pushing well beyond two bills, and that you’re running further and faster than you have ever run in your life.
Just keep running, dude. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep getting up at 5am to run during the week. And continue to challenge yourself, kicking the ass of the person you once were just weeks ago. You’ve got this.