There’s a moral to this story.
There was a time not all that long ago when I smoked about two packs of cigarettes a day, and had smoked for about 30 years. I quit in 2007, not long after my father gave up smoking.
We both quit cold turkey. My thinking was if he’s going to do it, so will I.
And so we did.
But I got fat in the process. Ate everything not nailed down. My weight climbed from 140 pounds to 200. I looked like I was wearing a Volkswagon Beetle under my shirt. So around 2010 I started walking. I gave up beer, discovered I actually like wine better anyway, and tried to start getting healthier.
I went on this thing called the 5/2 diet. It’s where you can eat anything you want within reason five days of the week, and you "fast" for two days a week. The fast isn’t really a fast. Men can eat 600 calories on fast days, women can have 500.
And at some point in all this, I started running, though I’m not sure that’s exactly what you call what I do. I’ve never been a runner. I’m not built like a runner, for one thing. I’ve got short legs and a big upper body and I’m just not built for graceful movement. I’m built to sit still and try to look as if I know what I’m doing.
Hated running PT in the Army, too, though in those days we’d party until 2 or 3 a.m. and then go back to the barracks to sleep hard for a couple hours before formation and PT. It was brutal.
But as I started running and fasting two days a week, I discovered two things.
The running was and still is painful at times, but it also made me feel good. The fasting wasn’t easy and still isn’t, but it also made me feel better.
I don’t feel right if I don’t fast a couple days a week. Even better, and I don’t know whether it’s the combination of running about 20 miles a week and fasting two days a week, or if its one more than the other, I’ve dropped about 60 pounds over the past few years.
I’ve started running races, though I’m not sure you’d call what I do running or racing. More like a modified airborne shuffle that keeps me at about an 11- or 12-minute a mile pace.
I’ve run some 5Ks - including the Healthy Hinesville 5K on Saturday morning - a 10K and a half marathon. I want to do a marathon before I’m through, though I’m no hurry to get there because I’m in no hurry to be through.
And that’s because the coolest thing I’ve discovered about running isn’t that it makes me feel better or that I’ve managed to place in my age group a couple times. Though that’s all good.
The coolest thing is the people you run with. I don’t think there’s a nicer bunch of human beings in the world than those who get out and run, or walk, whether they’re fast or slow or in between. I didn’t know that until I got out and started running. And it all started with a first step.
That’s the moral of this story. If I can do it, anybody can.