I’ve been talking to a friend a lot lately about how to help someone close to her. Throughout our many conversations some previous memories, nightmares, feelings, and many other thoughts have come back to life. I’ve also began to wonder if I could help someone else help a friend or family member one day. Maybe even help someone start their own journey. I’m not sure how or why this memory (nightmare really…) came back, but it did… This is how I started running:

I’ll never forget the first time I ran as an adult. I was still about 285-300 pounds. I was bundled up, it was freezing cold and early, really early. I would wake up and walk so it was done before work and I didn’t have to worry about my schedule for the rest of the day. I had an unpredictable work schedule and through many of the personal development books I had read, they recommended to always set a morning routine you can follow before the day gets hectic. So that is what I was working on. I was determined to make this a habit and refused to let any disruptions get in the way of my morning walk.

I had been watching Nikki work through the Couch to 5k program and was in the middle of listening to an audio book where the author described a woman from his office that had gone through a similar program so I was curious about this whole “running thing”…For some reason I decided I was going to give it a shot today. So I bundled up in layers and layers of clothes along with thick ski gloves and a thick stocking cap and headed out the door.

I walked along waiting for the perfect moment and it never seemed to come along. I have had a fear of people watching me without my knowledge for a long time. I was constantly monitored via video and audio at work and my telephone calls, computer and who knows what else was monitored. It made me feel like I was always being watched and judged. I watched every door and window to see if anyone was watching and laughing at me…

I look back and have no idea why anyone would even care, I’m guessing it probably comes from a lifetime of teasing especially when it came to my weight… Even today I have some major self confidence issues when it comes to my weight and how I look to others. When I look in the mirror I still see that 400 pound guy staring back at me… I keep looking for the new guy, but there’s still just a stranger looking back…

Anyway, I waited until I got to a dirt road that leads between 2 warehouses and off to the local walking/biking trail. I thought to myself that I would start as soon as I got to the dirt.

So I did. I hit the dirt and moved my feet faster. It was loud, uncomfortable, awkward, and painful. It wasn’t but 5 seconds and I was out of breathe… I can go just one more step, one more, one more… I had somehow talked myself into about one block and was ready to stop and heard some people laughing. I knew it was coming from the warehouse and when I looked up there were probably 10 guys standing outside smoking and joking. I thought to myself “you can’t stop. you can’t stop. They’ll start laughing if you stop. Look they’re all staring”…

So I didn’t. I got just out of their sight and stopped. I could barely breathe. I hadn’t had an asthma attack for years and it felt like my lungs and throat were going to cave in. I was so embarrassed. I would have turned around and went straight home but I couldn’t think of passing those guys again. I dreaded being seen by any of those people ever again. I swore I would never, ever go that route again… This is why I was out so early. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was ashamed I couldn’t run a block, A BLOCK!

I walked home in shame. It was the worst 2 miles ever. I broke down in tears. I realized that morning that I had come so far, but I wasn’t even close to where I wanted to be. But I was scared. How would I ever go farther? What if I stopped breathing next time? What if I hurt my knee? It was going to take so long to be able to run farther. It could take months to be able to run one mile. One mile is far! One mile is hard… It had been almost 10 years since I ran one mile straight and I hated every second of it the last time I did it. It was the worst. I kept wondering why I wanted to run and I just kept telling myself that it was the “next step” I had to take if I wanted to lose more weight.

I knew I couldn’t step foot in the gym because everyone would laugh at me. I wouldn’t know how to use the equipment, I couldn’t afford it, I can’t wake up early enough to get there… I was scared. I saw my quest as over. I knew I had done so well, I had done everything right, but I forgot how long it took me to get from where I was to what I had become. I was all out of excuses. It was time to learn to run, or give up, there was no third option…

Ever wonder why every run is epic to me? Think about losing your ability to walk and then wonder if you’ll ever walk again… I’ve come to love running. It’s become a big part of my life. It’s become a way to challenge myself, grow as a person, shrink my body, find new friends, new adventures, cross finish lines I never dreamed of starting… It keeps me alive. I’m scared to death of losing it. Every day I can put my running shoes on and go is one more day I get to live life to the fullest. So go. Take a walk. Take a run. It doesn’t matter how you move forward, just GO RIGHT NOW! Make today the best day of your life and Run Epic my friends.

Published by Gary Stotler

Gary Stotler is a father, running, fitness, weight loss and personal development addict. Formally 400 pounds, Gary has naturally lost 200 pounds, created a coaching & speaking business and has become a 100 mile ultra-runner. Holding a degree in Psychology & Sociology, certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, mindset & behavioral modification coaching, a certification in DISC personality assessment coaching and he is a certified speaker, coach & mentor with the John Maxwell Team. Gary firmly believes, if we take One Step at a Time, nothing is impossible. He is determined to let his actions show people what is possible and hopes to help you shake up your thoughts, change your actions and create your future.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: