Why Run Any Farther?

In the Fall of 2012 I had just finished the so-called “Fun Run,” a 2 mile run that is encouraged (some may say forced) upon the student body by the surprisingly powerful health department of Oral Roberts University.  I was in decent shape then running 2 or 3 miles a couple times a week and mowing about 20 lawns a week with a push mower. Immediately after the run, while walking to the dorms and basking in my glorious, yet unnoticed 2 mile finish, some friends drove by and asked if I wanted to go run the Tulsa Run starting in about 1 hour.

Not having trained or knowing the actual distance but feeling competent from my decent two mile run, I agreed, jumped in the car, and headed to the race. I believe I had never run more than about 3 miles at a time and was very intimidated when I was informed that the Tulsa Run was 15 km or 9.2 mile. Fearful of the social embarrassment of saying, “Drop me off at McDonald’s” I pressed on and did quite well in the race. It was that experience, of trying something new that I would normally never have considered, that made me consider running a marathon.

About 10 months later, I signed up and started training for the Route 66 Marathon scheduled for November of 2013. Mowing 20 yards a week and going to school full time I did most of my training on the weekends, making sure to always do the longest run of the week. I ran these long runs on the trails that trace the Arkansas River in Tulsa. It was honestly a very nice experience, that I look back on very fondly. I would run while my girlfriend  (now my wife) would ride her bike alongside me, likely swooning uncontrollably. Afterwards we would go have a big meal in the cafeteria and avoid doing the school work inevitably due the next morning.

One of my favorite basketball coaches once told me, “Charlie, you are the most athletic, non-athletic looking people I know.” So it was a bit of a surprise to others and myself when I ended up running that marathon at a 8:13 second mile pace.

marathon time
Marathon place and time, published by the Tulsa World.

Obviously, this isn’t record setting but I don’t think most people would see me and think, “That dude can run.” In fact I once had a fitness class at college where the coach/professor used me as an example in casual conversation of a body type that wouldn’t be the fastest or something. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remember running the fastest two mile in that class.

Fast forward about 5 years and the story is less encouraging. I would say that I peaked out physically on the day of that marathon. In January of 2018 I weighed about 234 lbs – about 40 pounds more than my marathon weight. I was working from home, 10 ft from the refrigerator, and not exercising much. I found it very difficult to stop the snacking during the day. In my head I started to play around with the idea of not letting myself eat until after work or just having one meal a day but was too unsure to try it. We have all been told to eat three meals a day and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, I held off trying it.

Later when talking about my troubles to a group of good friends, one suggested I look into intermittent fasting. She told me the basic premise of restricting the hours of the day you allow yourself to eat. After she said this I began reading, listening, and watching lots of information about intermittent fasting on the internet. Suddenly, I started to think of eating one meal a day in a whole new way. The idea I thought was unhealthy and unsafe became an idea that at the worst would have little affect and at the best would improve my health dramatically – possibly turning me into Clark Kent himself.

Over the last 7 months I have lost about 21 pounds and done different levels of intermittent fasting. Sometimes I don’t eat till noon, 3 pm, or 6 pm. Other days I eat all day. About 40% of the time I track my nutrition with myfitnesspal.com too. I stay very flexible, and virtually never turn down a meal with friends. I think the biggest lesson I have learned from trying intermittent fasting is that my body doesn’t need to be fed every 3 hours, and in many ways I feel much better not eating every time my computer has to load something.

Intermittent fasting and tracking my diet has helped me get to a point where once again I think I will try another marathon. I had considered it multiple times over the last 2 years as a method to loose weight. However, I felt that if I had to train for a marathon to get down to a healthy weight, I would likely not remain at a healthy weight post marathon. I believe that with what I have learned from tracking my nutrition using myfitnesspal.com and trying intermittent fasting, I now have the skills, knowledge, and commitment to maintain a healthy weight when I don’t have time or desire to train for a marathon. Of course, time will be the ultimate judge.

I fully expect the marathon to help me lose weight, but that is not the primary reason I am doing it. I have decided that it probably would be a fun, healthy, and motivational experience to train for another marathon. Not to mention I like the idea of getting in better physical condition than I have probably ever been. In a burst of sudden inspiration and excitement I signed up two nights ago for the marathon in Minneapolis on October 7th. I have my running plan imported to my phone calendar, and have now run the first two training runs. I have been running some over the last 7 months. So, starting a running plan where I am already 4 weeks behind isn’t a complete shock to the system, but has still been a little rough, but so far I am enjoying the challenge.

I think I am going to be intentional about documenting this marathon experience for two reasons. First, I could certainly use some encouraging words – even if they come from random people I don’t know on the internet. Second, I don’t think there are that many anecdotal or scientific documentations of intermittent fasting and marathon training together. Traditionally, I think most would recommend against fasted marathon running. I may find that they don’t work well together and need to change my plan. However, I think I am going to try it and see how it goes. If you want to follow this experience or offer some of those encouraging words, I will probably post most of my big updates here at charlestines.wordpress.com, but my more detailed health posts may appear only on my myfitnesspal blog https://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/charlietines. By the way if you are on myfitnesspal, let me know. Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “Why Run Any Farther?

  1. Poor John and I do the 5:2 diet. That means limiting calorie intake (500 for me and 600 for him) on two non-consecutive days a week. Works great for us.

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    1. That is cool, and I did not know you did that. The days when you limit calories do you tend to save those calories for any particular time of day or just eat throughout? I think I would horde them up for the end of the day because I don’t like going to bed hungry.

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      1. John hordes his calories and I eat through the day. It’s a really easy diet to do if you like things like salads, low-cal vegetables, pickles and such. The protein on those days is usually fish, prawns or other seafood, cooked with lemon juice (no oil), chopped green onions and capers.

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  2. Way to go!!! I’m proud of you!

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  3. Just to be clear – these are signs you want us to hold along the marathon route? Or just examples to get us started?

    You got this!

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    1. I would love that! I don’t expect Taco Tuesday to be there, but would love it if they were. I’ll definitely need some support.

      I didn’t explain those signs well. Those are signs that Hannah made and held. It was great encouragement. I even remember one sign held by a random person still today. The sign said, “Good job! You are half way there.” At first I descended into despair because I thought I was 80% done and devastated to be told I was only at 50%. After a few seconds my tired brain realized it was a joke because they were standing next to the 20 mile marker. Then I was elated and laughing really hard at there joke. I was just so tired it took my brain way too long to get the joke.

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