Weight Loss Ultimatum – Day 15 | Yearning for Something Lost

After 15 days of my new challenge I’ve found two things. The first is that there are tons of people out there that are in the same boat as me and they’re eager to support me in my efforts to live a healthy life. This is such a great time to be alive. The world is truly so much smaller now and like minded folks have so many more opportunities to share their stories and help each other out.

The second, and the one that fueled the title of this article, is I’ve lost something incredibly important in my life. Well over a decade ago I started my journey to a healthier me by lacing up a pair of running shoes and entering myself into the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth, MN (USA). I weighed just over 260lbs when I signed up and had no idea if I could actually run 13.1 miles. Since then I’ve run several half marathons and even one full marathon. I relied heavily on my running to keep my weight in check.

About two years ago I noticed my right foot starting to hurt more and more in the heel and arch. I didn’t do anything much about it and kept running. Sure enough, I wound up with full blown Plantar Faciitis. Fast forward to today and I’m still feeling the effects of the poor decisions of years ago. I can barely run more than a mile at a go and when I do, my foot will throb for days. Just walking can be painful.

I miss running so much and I haven’t been able to find anything to replace it while I work on rehabilitating my foot. I play hockey in the winter, but that’s just once per week for just a few months. I could play more, but with 3 small kids, a wife, and full time job, it’s just not as easy as running was.

I had a love hate relationship with running. I hated doing it, but I loved what it did for me. Hopefully that makes sense. I never fully felt like I belonged with all the other runners come race day, but they always made me feel like one of them. I was the guy who didn’t quite have all the gear everyone else had. I wasn’t laden in spandex, but it didn’t matter to anybody. We were all there for one reason, yet we all had so many different reasons that got us there. I miss that. I yearn to be able to run again.

Starting this ultimatum has brought me back to my blog more regularly, and brought me to go read more articles everyone else has been writing. I do it to find support. To find camaraderie. I often have a sense of yearning when I see post after post of people who are chronicling their first marathon, their 21st marathon, or just a random training run. I miss it so much. This must be one of my top goals now. I need to get my body back to running shape so I can run again.



A Little Less Wiggle Will Stop The Jiggle

This is a bit of a sensitive subject for me, but I feel it is my civic and social duty to impart my wisdom on all who will hear it. It is a problem many of us who are graced with additional weight we’d like to do away with will face. It is… Jiggle. Yup, that’s right. I’m talking about what our extra portions of cake, pudding, tacos, pizza, etc cause our bodies to do when we are active.

As already noted, I’m particularly sensitive to this subject as I was an avid runner back in the day, but I wasn’t always. Prior to starting to run, I was at my worst, around 260+ lbs. I decided the best way to lose weight was to enter into a 1/2 marathon race. After 15 or so races and several thousand miles of pounding the pavement I think I can consider myself somewhat of an expert on being an overweight runner. Much of my running career was spent over 200 lbs, so this advice is for those of us who cannot stand the feeling of our bodies jiggling while we run.

Disclaimer!!!! I want everyone to know, I share this information as both humor, and as an actual piece of advice that all runners, be they large or small can use. I mean no offense to anyone, I simply am sharing my own personal self-conscious issues that I applied a theory to that resolved my insecurities.

2nd DISCLAIMER!!! This one is more important than the first. You must know, if you are self-conscious about running or being active. If you’re insecure about your body, know this. Nobody is looking at you and judging you. More often than not, it’s simply because I have chosen to judge myself that I feel I am being judged by others. Yeah, from time to time there’s a jerk out there, but you know what screw them. They’re not important, you are.

Ok, so let’s get going and answer this all too important question. How do I reduce my body jiggle when I’m jogging? Is this real?

Here is what specifically worked for me and I’ll explain them further after.

  • Take longer strides when you jog
  • Don’t run on the balls of feet
  • Create a consistent breathing pattern
  • Run tall, run with good posture

Let’s take a look at why these four rules can help. Mind you, these are some good tenets of good running whether you’re overweight and running or not.

This is probably the most important rule I always run by. Longer strides do many things to decrease the jiggle, but the most obvious is if you’re taking longer strides, you’re also taking less strides. Less strides means you’re hitting the ground less often. The jiggle we feel is almost entirely caused by our feet hitting the ground, reduce the number of times that happens, and boom, your body will jiggle less. It will also reduce the overall amount of energy you expel because less strides equals less motion required to move the same distance. For a long distance runner, I recommend you learn to regulate your stride length and change your stride length from time-to-time during a long run. This allows certain muscles to get a slight rest while you work other more rested muscles. Then you can switch back and forth.

Running on the balls of your feet is fine for a short sprint, but for longer distances you’re going to want your foot to fall more so in a rocking fashion from the front of your heel, then rocking forward to the ball of your foot. This creates a well cushioned foot fall to the ground. You’d almost feel as though you’re gliding along instead of clomping along. If you couple this with your longer stride, you’ve almost entirely reduced the jiggling of your body with these two rules. Now, for those of you unsure of this, let me tell you, if you stop running on the balls of your feet, you’ll probably reduce the shin splints you get, to none, to barely any. Shin splints (the pain you feel in your shins) often happens because the force of your foot hitting the pavement right at the ball of the foot goes straight to the shin. If you even out the blow of your foot hitting the ground into a rocking motion allows the foot to dissipate the force more evenly among the entire foot, and doesn’t resonate nearly as much of that force up your leg.

Breathing is obviously very very important. Your body needs to replenish the oxygen it uses while you run. When you create a consistent breathing pattern you are controlling not only your lungs, but the muscles around your lungs, and your legs and your arms etc. Control equals discipline. Discipline means you’re not thinking about things you shouldn’t. Yeah, I’m basically recommending a mind trick, but a good breathing pattern is really just a good running technique to get the most oxygen into your body in the most consistent way possible. My pattern is this (hopefully it will translate well to text).

This indicates when the foot is hitting the ground

Left Foot (breathe out) > Right Foot > Left Foot (breath in) > Right Foot > Left Foot (breath out) > Right Foot

I’ve used this exact breathing technique for over a decade and it has been crucial to my ability to run long distances. The key is not on the breath in, but on the breath out. My out breathes occur as my left foot hits the ground. Why? When my foot hits the ground gravity is making everything in my body drop towards the ground as well, this forces my lungs to shift down just a little, which means when I breath in, I can bring just a hair more oxygen into my lungs than I would have otherwise. This means I get more oxygen, so my muscles get more and my body is happier. The overall cadence of the breathing provides a consistent supply of much needed oxygen to my body which means I feel less out of control. I feel less anxiety, and I’m less likely to cramp or have a side ache.

Finally, stand tall when you run. Run like you mean it. Run like you’re not tired, even if you are. Why is this important? Yes, it’s also a mental trick, but also, when you run with good posture, your body does less work, and you use less energy. If your body is moving less, you’re going to jiggle less right? Yup. Not only that, but because long distance running is such a big mental endurance battle, if you force yourself to look like you’re not tired, you will be less tired. Mind over matter. So often I’ve seen people who look like they’re in better shape than me start a race with bad slouchy tired looking form and they just can’t do it. They start with a tired mindset. You’re setting yourself up for failure. Run tall (not totally straight up and down), run like you mean it. Run like you’re trying to get somewhere. Even if you have to lie to yourself about how tired you are.

I get that the premise of this post is a bit ridiculous, and I also get that many people (myself included) wouldn’t consider me a running expert, but here’s where the foot meets the pavement. Until I hurt my foot a couple years ago, these were all very important principles I lived by when I would train for and run a race and they all worked. I had self-image problems. I hated that my body jiggled, and until I lost the weight, I needed something to reduce that jiggle as it was killing my mindset when I would run. Go on Youtube and find videos that show good running technique and have a friend or loved one watch it with you. Record yourself running and compare it to these videos. It’ll change your life, or at least your PR at the end of a race.

Good luck everyone and I’m sorry if I offended someone because I wrote “Jiggle” too many times. 🙂


Run Like You Mean It!

I used to be a runner. I long to be a runner again, but until I can get my Plantar Fasciitis healed, I’m relegated to sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else run. This provides me the opportunity to see a lot of people run… and judge them. 🙂

My biggest pet peeve is people who run like they’re tired. Perhaps you’re one of them. It doesn’t matter if you’re on mile 26 or you just started a 1 mile run, you’re running like you’re out of breath and your body is about to collapse in sheer exhaustion.

What’s the deal? Don’t you know that running is like 150% mental? That if you allow your body to think it’s tired, then your body “will” become tired? I see so many people jogging with their heads bobbing like their melon is so heavy it should have its own sidecar so you can just wheel it alongside you. I guess you also put on your lead shoes because your feel are doing the drunken shuffle too.

Come on! Hold your head high. Pick up your stupid feet, and for the LOVE OF PETE, run like you mean it!!!

Don’t run tire until you are tired, and then, even then, STOP RUNNING LIKE YOU’RE TIRED. If you’re going to mentally get through whatever distance you’re running, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by tricking your body into thinking it’s tired. When I was able to run, I was constantly telling myself things like “I could run for days like this” or “Man, I have so much energy.” I was trying to trick my brain into believing what I was saying and it usually worked. I never had a training run or race that I had to end early due to “being too tired to finish.” That’s not to say I didn’t get tired, but the mental aspect of those situations required me to lie to myself to get my body to do what I wanted.

I know, I’m probably being too judgy of others, but when you can no longer run, it makes it really hard to see people squandering their ability. I get it, some of these folks I’m judging could be experiencing even worse injuries than I and for those, I apologize. I doubt very many of those I see though, have anything holding them back from running a little taller, a lot stronger, and light years faster.

I Finished… I'm Alive…

I finished my very first Full Marathon this weekend. I ran the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN and it was an awesome experience. I was hoping to have written this sooner after finishing but that just didn’t happen. I’m hoping I remember all the important stuff I want to remember.

The Shuttle Ride

I rode the shuttle from UMD to the starting line which is at the Sonju Two Harbors car dealership just south of Two Harbors, MN. I was on the first shuttle which I had to be at the pickup location by 5:15am to manage that. Got on the bus and sat next to a nice college girl from Madison. It was also her first marathon so we chatted off and on throughout the race. We got off the bus around 6:00am.

There were hundreds of Porta-Potties and lots of water and powerade.

The Starting Line

They let the elite runners into the starting gate early which makes sense. It was pretty cool to see them, it was the closest I’d be to them. We all started filing into the starting gates shortly after the National Anthem was done. I was amazed when they had announced the National Guard Bulldogs would fly over at 7:23am and sure enough, at 7:23am they flew over during the National Anthem. That was pretty impressive.

Elite Runners entering the Starting Gates.

And We’re Off!!

The race started at 7:45am and I managed to cross the starting line at around 7:50am. Not too bad considering how far back I was from the starting line. The start was pretty standard, nothing too interesting happened. Everyone was excited and couldn’t wait to get moving.

Queued up and ready to go.

The First 5 Miles

I couldn’t believe how fast the first 5 miles went. I ran right around a 10 minute mile which was much faster than I expected I would. The sheer number of people made the run go so much easier and faster.

I also couldn’t believe the number of people already running into the ditch and woods to relieve themselves. Kindof gross.

The weather to start was getting up into the 70’s which was getting a little warm. I tried to run on the left side of the road whenever there was shade available. I think that really helped me keep my pace up, though it could have just been a mental thing too.

I took this picture while I was running. A guy next to me predicted the pic would be blurry. Turned out pretty decent I’d say.

5-10 Miles

This was a fun band playing along the way.

Between miles 5 and 10 I kept up with my pace and ended up coming up on the 4:30 pacer. That was one of the factors that kept me going and got my competitive side going. I had to pass the guy. The first time I passed him, I was stoked. I tried to text my wife the picture below to show her, but it didn’t send. I was very impressed when later on, I saw a guy carrying the pacer sign for the guy for a couple miles. I thought that was really cool of the guy. I was also amazed that he was keeping up that pace, he was a pretty big guy.

Passing the pacer became a bit of an obsession for me.

Halfway Done – 13.1 Miles

I was starting to get some real soreness in my hips by the halfway point. Mile 13 was when my GPS stopped working which was a bummer. The halfway point volunteers had 13.1 mile shirts which were pretty cool.

Check out the 13.1 shirts.

Pushing through the pain wasn’t too bad at mile 13. It was more annoying than sheer pain.

Mile 13 marker was a welcome sight.

Miles 15-20

The weather really started to change and clouds started rolling in and the temps started dropping. This was a great thing for the run. It didn’t really look like it was going to rain anytime soon, though.

Mile 17 was probably one of the harder miles. I think that’s when I really started to slow down a bit. My hips were really starting to hurt and my mind was starting to work against me. Not too bad just yet, but it was starting to get to that point where I was starting to think I might hit my wall.

This was also where we starting rolling into Duluth and the scenery was changing. This is also where the hills start appearing. My phone also died during this period of the run, which is why I have no more pictures.

Miles 20-23

The course gets so messy around the water stations. You have to be careful you don’t slip on cups.

These were by far, the hardest miles to complete. My mind was at it’s worst in terms of positive thoughts. It was manageable but I remember just thinking it would be great to be able to just quit. How strange is that?

This was also the point where walking actually hurt more than running. This was a surprising twist which made it much easier to run because I didn’t look forward to walking.

We also started really getting into the downtown area. I was amazed at how well I did at the large hill at the London Road jct. I passed tons of people going up that hill which was a huge confidence boost for me. I wasn’t going very fast, but somehow I had saved some energy for it.

Miles 23-26.2

These miles were the most painful but also the most enjoyable. Right at the start of mile 23 I felt a blister pop on my left pinky toe and then instant pain. Instantly I started limping. I was still in my mental wall so I started thinking negatively about that blister, but then something struck me and I told myself that I had expected this was going to happen so get over it. Push through it. It took probably a half mile and the pain was no longer at the front of my mind.

That was good because at about mile 24.5 I started getting cramps in my right calf muscle. It never turned into a complete cramp. I was able to catch it before it seized entirely. I made sure I stretched it as I ran and was able to manage that pain. It scared me, I started thinking it might stop me from continuing if it did cramp entirely but again my brain did something awesome and I told myself that even if I cramped up, you just have to run through it, even if it makes my leg useless.

I decided when I started getting the cramps in my calf that I better not stop to walk anymore otherwise it would fully cramp, so I sped up. I don’t know what my pace was on my final 2 miles, but it had to be a little faster than 10 minutes per mile.

At about mile 25 was when I started getting a side ache. I probably had stopped breathing properly so I started to get cramps in my left side. That was pretty easy to ignore though.

Running around the DECC and coming around the corner was actually the best feeling I’ve ever had anytime I’ve run that portion of the course (the half marathon uses the same finish line). I was feverishly searching for my wife Kelly. I didn’t want to miss her and I also wanted to be able to show her that I was fine. I needed to finish strong otherwise she might never let me run another marathon again.

About 100 yards before the finish line I saw Kelly. I think I hooted or something and pumped my arms in the air when I saw her and my brother and then I sprinted to the finish line. I have no idea where I got that energy but I sprinted and passed a bunch of people just before finishing. I even heard my name announced which then I raised my arms again.

Grandma’s Marathon Finisher

This is the heaviest medal I’ve ever gotten.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I thought I might throw up, but I get that feeling everytime I sprint across a finish line. It did make me nervous because nobody wants to throw up in front of so many people. Luckily, I was able to breath through it.

I got my medal and the rest is history. This was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had finishing this race. My official chip time was:

Notes of Interest

I forgot to note the other interesting things I saw that I wanted to remember.

At mile 22 or 23 I saw the paramedics strapping a guy into a stretcher to take to the hospital which was a little disturbing to see.

Heard an insane amount of sirens around mile 23 or 24 also which was weird. It could have been totally unrelated to the race though.

The 3 Elvis’s

Barack Obama and Mitt Romeny, why can’t we be friends was pretty funny.

Saw a bicycle for sale along the trail which I thought was hilarious. Still not sure if it was for real or not.

The guy telling everyone they were 83.23% done was pretty funny.

Some great signs along the way

Run like you stole it

Keep Going, Keep Going… That’s what she said

You’re almost there… That’s what she said

My Twin is running my half of the marathon

This is the worst parade… Where’s all the marching bands?

Faster Daddy… Mommy said we can’t have lunch until you’re done

You’re looking great… How do I look, I just got up from a long nap?

I’d do a marathon… Runner

Long Run in the Morning

I’ve committed to go for the longest run I’ve ever done tomorrow morning. My goal is between 16-18 miles in 3 hours. I’m running with my brother-in-law Mark which should help me stay motivated. I’m pretty excited and nervous. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to do it though.

This is the max distance I could go on this trail. I'll likely only do 16-18 miles of it.

This should be a good gauge as to how I’m doing with my training. If the run goes well, then I’ll be pretty confident I can do this marathon. If it doesn’t go so well, then I think we may run into some issues.

Let’s just assume it’s going to go great. 🙂