We all have origin stories – where we’re from, how we came to be in the career we’re pursuing, how we met that someone special – but this is a running blog, so I’m going with my beginnings there.
My mom likes to tell the story, and roll her eyes, about the fact that I started walking at 10 months. As far back as I can remember, I loved to run. From what I’ve seen of little kids, most would rather run from place to place, they’re busy people and excited to be playing and moving. Why walk when your toy is calling to you in the next room? Let’s go! Get that thing! Once I was in grade school I found that I was generally one of the fastest kids on the playground. Never the fastest, my friends Doug and Leo always took that prize, but up there in the top three or four. This did not translate into general athleticism though, in the old days of choosing up teams I was pretty much always chosen last.
Jump to high school, and it was a lock that I’d join the track team. I thought initially that I was a sprinter, but after a mediocre first year, I moved to the quarter mile and the relays. A little more success was realized there, but I knew I wasn’t college level talented, and besides, I was busy taking math and science courses in college that were kicking my butt. In that time however, I began to run longer and longer races, from a 10K in San Francisco dubbed The Long Run in association with the Eagles album of the same name (look it up kids) to a local half marathon called the Ass to Ass (after a pair of pizza places called The Brass Ass), to the Golden Gate Marathon when I was 18.
Post college, I got busy with trying to make a living, dating, eventually getting married, etc.; a common arc. In the meantime, I never completely stopped exercising but in my mid 30s I was probably in the worst shape of my life, and a particular moment brought that into sharp, wheezing, heart racing focus. I was doing yardwork and edging the lawn with one of those manual “wheel with blades” that you push along the sidewalk to trim back the overgrown grass. I did about five feet worth of edge and had to stop, literally hands-on-knees gasping, heart-coming-out-of-my-chest. In that moment, my self-image of being in OK shape melted. Dissolved? Exploded? I don’t know, but it was gone. The only thought in my mind was “Well, this is BULLSHIT!”
I started running again, regularly. It was hard. It was somewhat embarrassing, but mostly in comparison with what I remembered from being 20. I kept at it. In time, I joined a Team in Training marathon group with the thought that if I was ever going to do another marathon I was going to need help, and that decision changed my life. At the end of the training I ran the 2003 San Diego Marathon, putting 24 years between my first and second marathon and taking 20 minutes or so off my time. I met people I’m still friends with today, a wonderful side effect to finding my tribe.
So what’s your origin story? Was there a defining moment that got you started on a fitness quest? Email me at Patrick@goodfitcoaching.com and tell me the story, I’d love to hear it. If I get enough of them I’ll compile a post about that, with your permission of course. Share your story, inspire others.
Run on friends.