The journey of an old Marine who went from unfit to fit
Former active duty Marine who went from 170 lbs to 328 lbs and decided that he had to change his life or die. He lost 130 lbs in 1 year through Whole30 and adopting the Paleo Diet without doing any exercise at all. Since starting running, he's lost an additional 20 lbs and is comfortably back in the 170 lbs range. He is a Warrant Officer in the Army National Guard and writes multiple blogs about topics he is passionate about.
It’s been an entire week since I last ran, and I feel badly about that. I had planned on running my minimum three times, but life and weather got in the way and it just didn’t work out.
When I hit the ground for my push-ups, I was expecting some difficulty, but to my surprise (and great pleasure) I was able to whip out 65 push ups without much effort. This is good for a 100 score out of 100 on my coming APFT in February.
Then, came the run. I started with a good pace just barely pushing it, and I ended up really happy with the results: 8:19/mile average for 3.1 miles. It’s not my fastest, but it’s definitely on-par with my better times. The best part is that I felt great afterward.
Well, after running only once again last week due to weather and being busy, I finally had a chance to get out and run another three miles. What I didn’t expect was for it to go so well! It turned out to be a great run with a sub-8 minute first mile pace! I ended up with an 8:31/mile average pace, which is good. My pace was faster overall than last week, and the run felt good. There were a few times I pushed past some desire to slow down, and it felt wonderful.
I did 55 push ups before the run which helped warm me up a bit, since it was pretty windy and about 64 degrees. I don’t know if I’ll be running over the next few days due to the weather being really cold again, but at least I’m not worried about my APFT coming up in February. I can already pass it easily.
It’s January 9th, and this is only my second post-run report. I need to pick things up a lot!!! I just found out TODAY that my Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is going to be held in February instead of April. That makes running and push ups a top priority for me. I was expecting to be able to slide into faster times on my runs and more push ups over the course of the next three months, but now, I have four weeks to prepare. The good news is that it looks like I’m already where I need to be; I just need to maintain where I’m at now and make any incremental increases I can to pad my score.
Today’s run had low expectations. After running last week for the first time in four weeks, my legs were sore and I had to take a few extra days off from running to allow them to heal. I was going to run Monday night, but life once again got in the way, and I wasn’t able to run until tonight. The good news is that I really think that extra day of rest helped my legs a lot.
My first mile was a blazing 8:18/mile. I say blazing, because it’s only my second run in a month. It was blazing because not only was I quick, but I felt good doing it. I wasn’t pushing myself beyond comfort, and my breathing was good and my legs felt great. The following two miles were both at 8:41/mile pace. This is significant because I wasn’t trying to set a pace, yet I was hoping for sub-9 minute miles. I did it! And I felt good afterward!!! This bodes well for the APFT in February.
As for push ups, I easily knocked out 50. I could have upped it by 10, but I am going with the method I used to get up to 120 push ups without any arm pain: I do as many push ups as I can without straining, and rest for a day and then do them again. Using this plan, I got up to 120 push ups in two minutes within three months with NO muscle soreness or pain. Since I’m already near the max points for my age in push ups, I don’t need to go crazy and push to failure each time I do push ups. Again, I feel comfortable and I’ll be good for the APFT in February.
The only thing I don’t build on are sit ups. These hurt my lower back, and I find that as long as I’m doing proper push ups with my runs, my core strength is good enough to get me a passing score in sit ups once a year.
For the past few weeks, I was worried that when I finally got back to running, it would be a painful, slow, and emotionally difficult thing. I was also stressing about getting back to doing my push ups. I shouldn’t have been so worried. I finally got back on the road last night for a run, and it went far better than I expected in more than a few ways.
First, my pace was decent. I ran a sub-9 minute average over the three+ miles. The second and third miles were over 9 minutes/mile, but the first mile was an 8:21/mile, and I’m pleased with that.
Second, I actually felt good on the run. Sure, there were times I was pushing it and I was winded, but I never really felt like quitting. Not once. It was actually a very nice run, and my legs felt great.
Finally, I was able to get my push ups in. I did 50. It was a bit of a push to get past 40, but 50 is good. I could have made the last 10 to 60, but that would have left me with sore arms today, I stopped at 50. I’ll be at 60 or more by the end of the month for sure, and 60 is my max for score on my Army PFT’s.
Since it’s the day after, I expected to wake up with sore legs, but they aren’t any more sore than they normally are after a run. Heck, my legs hurt me more when I was walking in NYC than they do this morning. That’s a great thing. I will run again either Saturday or Sunday, depending on how much I have going on. Then, Monday it’s back to my regular running schedule.
It’s funny; I felt GREAT after I ran. There was a little trepidation before the run, but afterward? Nothing but GREAT. Sure, I had a little soreness in my right calf and my right knee, but that was all gone by this morning. It’s great to be back to it. I’ve missed it.
I forgot to blog after these runs because of the holidays and getting ready for them. Mostly, I’ve been very busy and just forgot to post after I got in and showered. Then, after the 5k, I had a trip to NYC with my wife to visit my daughter, and then came the Christmas and New Year’s break, and then it got too cold for me to run for a week or so and then, well, here we are!
I will be going out for my run today. It’s still cool out, but that’s to be expected. I’m okay with running when it’s cool out; I’m not okay with running when it’s frigid. Now, it’s been a solid four weeks since I last ran. This is probably the longest break I’ve had in running since I started back in September 2016. This time, however, it wasn’t due to injury; just a busy life.
I will be adding push ups back to my routine, so I look forward to seeing how many I can do after not doing any for about three or four months. I had to take some time off to let my left elbow heal. As luck would have it, I injured my right elbow about three weeks ago, so we’ll see how it does. I hope I don’t need to take another few months off from push ups; I have an Army physical fitness test coming in April I need to work up to.
I couldn’t run Wednesday due to cold and rainy weather. I will run in the cold, and I will run in the rain, but I won’t run in cold and rainy weather. Then, yesterday, I had a friend come over for a standard Thursday evening get-together, and tonight is a celebration for the Marine Corps Birthday at my friend Steve’s house. Tomorrow morning will be my only opportunity to run this weekend, as tomorrow night is the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, and I am fairly certain that I will be in no shape to run on Sunday. Sunday evening, I have a concert to go to which then leaves me with only two runs again this week.
I need to pick it up and do more. I will work as hard as I can to get my three runs in this coming week, and I also endeavor to add at least two days of bike riding into the mix.
Tonight, I set out to running a faster pace, and almost burned myself out too quickly. My first half-mile pace was 7:10/mile. Wow! That’s likely the fastest I’ve run in a very, very long time. I noticed I was burning myself out quickly, though, and if I were doing an APFT, I would keep that pace (or at least do my best trying), but since I knew I was going 3.1 miles, I slowed myself down. My first mile, I slowed to as close to 8 minutes/mile as I could, going over a bit, and because of the extreme speed in the early run, my subsequent second and third mile pace declined a bit, but I was still able to come in at a good 8:19/mile average. I’ll take it!
The one weird thing on tonight’s run is the number of bugs I ran through. When I got in the house and looked in the mirror, I looked like I had freckles from all the bugs stuck to the sweat on my face. I know a few flew into my mouth and into my eyes during the run. The ones in my eyes burned for a bit. The ones in my mouth didn’t taste too bad.
Today, I decided to take it slower than usual. Going into the weekend, I figured I may as well just go slow and enjoy the run. After hearing my first half-mile pace, however, I decided that I was going too slow, so I picked up the pace a bit. I can’t allow myself a 9+ minute/mile pace!
I picked it up for my second and third miles, but since I had done a bunch of drinking the night before and it was really hot out, I quit at exactly 3 miles even though I had intended to run 3.5 miles. It just wasn’t going to happen.
So, not my best run, not my longest run, but I’m happy with it nonetheless.
Surprisingly, I feel great. I ran longer last night than I have in a very long time, and I was expecting my legs to be sore, but the opposite has happened; they actually feel great. Normal, even.
I’ve been holding back from running longer distances out of fear that it would leave me feeling too worn down or sore between runs, but today, I feel amazing.
My next run will be a 3.5 mile run. Adding another 1/10th of a mile doesn’t seem like much until you are running them and building distance. I won’t run the longer distance unless I can do so at my sustained pace for the previous distance, so that means keeping it at 8:30/mile or faster pace.
Oh, and the Astros won the World Series last night. Not sure if that’s helping my legs feel better, but it sure feels good.
I was given some new exercise shirts today, and I figured I’d give one of them a try on a run tonight. It turned out to be a huge mistake, as when I got in after this run, my nipples were burning and slightly bleeding. Ouch! But, I’m still very happy with this run tonight. It started with a quick 10 push ups to see where I’m at with the elbow. No surprise: there’s still some pain, so I stopped after 10 very easy push ups. I was surprised at how easy they were. I know; 10 isn’t much, but I was thinking there’d be some difficulty, but there was none at all. That’s good to know. I’ll continue to sit out doing push ups for November and try again in December.
As for the run, I started off with a decent pace and was able to keep it up for the entire run. I decided to go for a little more distance tonight and I was happy to make 3.4 miles with ease. Heck, it just felt really good. Finishing with an 8:20/mile average pace over the 3.4 miles is a win for me, and I’ll take it.
I feel good after my runs, and even during the runs, while I’m pushing to keep the speed up, I find myself not really being out of breath or having to tap into any reserve to get the speed and distances I’ve been running. I will run again, hopefully, on Friday (as planned) and my goal is to raise the distance to 3.5 miles or more. No, I’m not working toward anything right now except maybe to be able to run a 10k sometime next year. I do have a 5k coming up in December, but at this point, barring any injuries, that one will be pretty easy and I should be able to post a new personal best with relative ease.