How I Became a Runner

For starters, I wanted to become a runner. My friend Jesse is the coolest, and we running super far. We used to have bike adventures back in the day, but now he was a runner – I wanted running adventures with my buddy!

I was living with my parents in 2016. Eating like shit. I remember I lost the definition in my ankles, from all the years prior when I biking 100 miles a week.

Times were tough. I could not find work. Automated rejection emails were a regular thing in my inbox. I needed something I could control.

My best friend texted me from a 4th of July picnic. Said someone bet him he couldn’t run an eight minute mile. He tried and said he couldn’t do it. I tried a day or two later, and ran a mile in 13 minutes and my thighs hurt so bad I had difficulty walking down stairs for a week.

But I wanted this. I wanted to be a runner. I didn’t just want to lose weight, I wanted to be fit an in shape and look like a runner, so I had to become a runner.

The image at the top of this post is one of my first long runs, from way back in 2016, about three months from when I started with a Couch to 5K app. I can now run a 10K (6.1 miles) in 54 minutes, an 8:36/mile pace.

The biggest thing was I started back in 2016. If you’re reading this now and thinking you want to be a runner, the best time to have started was back in 2016. The next best time is today.

Around this time another friend (a seasoned runner) told me to not worry about speed or pace, just focus on “time on feet.” Run 30 minutes, run 40 minutes, run 60 minutes. Don’t worry about pace, just be out there moving on your feet. Your entire body has to adjust; bones, muscles, lungs, YOUR MIND. The run mentioned above that took over an hour was crucial to my being able to run 18 miles a few months ago.

It’s all foundational.

That slow shitty run is okay. That fast run where you felt is okay, too. Appreciate the moments when you’re feeling good, and know that somedays it won’t feel like that. So when your run sucks, remember that it won’t last forever. You’ll feel better tomorrow. Or in your next mile!

Probably the biggest thing – slow down. You shouldn’t be short of breath, huffing and puffing, ready to die. Slow. Down. Remember, your foot bones need to adjust to the pounding. Your heart has to get better at pumping blood to your muscles. Your tendons are working overtime now, too.

You’re asking your body to do a lot, so be kind to yourself. Slow down. Forget that “I can’t walk” shit. If you need to walk, WALK. Save the bravado for a big race or group adventure when you’re surrounded by people to cheer you on and support you. I’m not saying you can’t push it sometimes, but don’t run yourself into the ground. Save some energy for tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow.

Bring water, or don’t. Wear short shorts, or tights, or whatever. Do what feels good for you. Don’t obsess, over planning everything, researching. Go fail, go fall on your face, go get blisters.

Get out of your comfort zone from time to time, stop playing it safe, and just try shit.

I remember the first time I ran on consecutive days. WHAT??! I just did it, and didn’t break, and then took it easy of course. But you need to try stuff to figure out what works for you.

But to keep trying those things, you have to stay healthy. You have to enjoy it, it needs to be fun. So slooow down. Take some photos. Smell some roses along the way.

Now you’re a runner.

P.S.: it took me three years, and lots of running, but I finally ran that eight minute mile (7:49/mile) in a small 5K trail race.