Written late July 2017… This was never intended to be shared publicly but fuck it, I’ve got nothing else left to hide.

I woke up, wanted to run to the top of the highest mountain and jump off the steepest part. 

I knew I couldn’t jump. I didn’t really want to jump. But the fear of my thoughts scared me.

I hit the deepest bought of depression I had ever felt. I realized a lot this day.

This was my wake up call.

Don’t let running become your self harm…

For a long time I’ve been using weight loss, physical fitness, food, walking, running and alcohol to cover up my feelings. What happens when nothing fills the void anymore? Eventually we all hit a breaking point. Some time we will realize we have to face our problems rather than avoiding them.

I’m so used to seeing a wall and crashing through it as hard as possible. I can usually see it coming, so I can speed up instead of crash… This weekend I didn’t see the wall coming. I hit the wall and had no idea what to do. I have been distracted. I have been focused on other things. I have so many balls in the air, I lost focus on what is coming.

I’ve dealt with depression in many ways over the years. I’ve ate until I can’t feel anymore. I’ve drank until I can’t remember what happens (or at least I don’t care anymore). I’m starved myself until I no longer have the desire for food. I’ve exercised more in a day than most people do in a month and then I keep going. I’ve run. I’ve run far away. I’ve run the farthest distances to the highest mountain tops trying to escape what’s in my head.

There are two things I haven’t done. One is face my problems and two is talk about my problems. Running away was easier. Feeling the pain made it real. Numbing the pain gave me control.

I never wanted to become a runner. It just kind of happened. I didn’t start drinking heavily on purpose. I woke up one day and realized it was out of control. I didn’t overeat or starve myself on purpose, but it was a way to cover up my real issues. It’s all been a way for me to gain control.

This isn’t a sob story or a cry for help, I’ve already taken positive action toward getting help. This is however a warning. Maybe it’s a warning for you, maybe a friend, maybe a family member. A smile and a positive attitude can cover up a lot. People can smile at the pain. They can cover up the darkness on the inside with a bright and shiny outside.

People change, it’s a part of life. People grow apart or together, it’s how people and relationships work. Sometimes we don’t realize how or how much we are changing until we wake up down the road and have no idea how we got there. It’s only in retrospect that we realize what happened. We get wrapped up and focused on something and we abandon the person we used to be in pursuit of who we want to become.  Our daily actions are a direct result of our intended direction. Hence why goals are so important. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you will surely get there.”

I read a very interesting article about depression a while back. Their theory is depression is the minds way of dealing with change. The brain is changing to keep up, it’s trying to make sense and understand the changes so it can adapt and move forward. The problem with medication is, medication only masks the problems and doesn’t allow our minds to adapt and change in the necessary way. By not allowing the mind to adapt and accept the change, we never fix the underlying problem, we cover it up and it eventually comes back.

Full circle (if I haven’t lost you by now), I believe I have been using many forms of self-medication to cover up my depression. Eating, drinking, anorexia, running, have all been ways for me to cover up many aspects of my life and my past. As I’ve fought the reflection I see in the mirror, I have been undergoing deep bouts with depression over the past couple years. I’ve changed. As much as my body has changed, and as fast as it has changed, my mind has struggled to keep up. The deeper I fall mentally, the more I’ve worked to cover up my feelings with running. I finally realized I can’t out run the reflection in the mirror. He’s caught up to me. After my first 100 in March, I said I would run faster, farther and I wouldn’t stop until I’ve out run the reflection. I was a different person then. I’ve grown a lot since then. I’ve been broken down, beaten up and buried deep into the soil of my mind. I’ve learned a lot about life through running. I’ve learned a lot over the last 5 years of my weight loss journey. I’ve fallen and stood back up. I used to think I needed Leadville to feel accomplished. I thought I needed it to become a better person. Finishing Leadville was supposed to be the key that unlocked my future.

But now I know finishing Leadville doesn’t mean anything. It was the first step, the never giving up, the steadfast focus and the consistent action that means everything. I will finish Leadville, but I don’t need it anymore. I don’t need to finish for people to see me in a positive way. I don’t need it so I can instantly see myself the way others see me. I’ve been pursuing a better vision of myself in the process. I’ve become a better person in the process. I’ve become stronger, more wise, a better leader, a faster learner, and learned that my never give up spirit will last longer because of the person I’ve become in the process of training for Leadville.

Don’t get me wrong, the process hasn’t been easy on me, my family, or anyone else that is associated with me. I’ve lost some friends. I’ve lost some family. I’ve lost a lot in the process… But in all the time I’ve been alive, I’ve never gone through anything as hard as losing almost 200 pounds. I’ve never stuck with anything as long as I’ve successfully trained for Leadville. The experience alone has broken me down and rebuilt me from the bottom up. Whether I finish or fail the race, I have come out a better person in the process.

“It’s not becoming a millionaire that will change your life. It’s the person you become in the process that makes all the difference.” Jim Rohn

This is why winning the lottery or taking a magic pill won’t do you any good in the long run. You don’t see the day to day struggles it takes to get the results you want. When you don’t change the underlying problems, you won’t make lasting change.

We can all cover up anything we want. We can run away, bury our feelings with food, and feel pleasure or pain. What we do today, will affect all of our tomorrows. The easier our road to success, the faster we can lose it. The more we have to endure to achieve a goal, the less likely we are to lose our reward.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. For the first time in years, I don’t have the next step planned. I don’t have the big goal at the end of the rope pulling me forward… I feel empty and lost without my carrot. But I do know this, whatever path is before me, is much better than the road I’ve left behind. When Leadville is over and I have a chance to breathe again, I will review and reflect so I can move forward. I used to think I would see what is ahead based on the person I became after I crossed the finish line. But now I know the finish line will be just a formality. The finish line is not really an end, it is a beginning of a new chapter in my life.

I finally understand what I meant by “My victory isn’t crossing the finish line. My victory is taking the next step after I want to quit.” I didn’t know how to tell the story I’ve been burying inside my head for so long. I never knew how to deal with life. Running, blogging, and social media has been a way to translate everything I have on the inside. It’s been a way for me to express myself in a positive way as I’ve moved through some of the hardest parts of my life. Every finish line I’ve crossed for myself has been a symbolic for another challenge I’ve faced and overcome. Every first step I’ve taken out my door has been an encouragement for me to not give up on a part of myself. Running has become my escape. Running has become my medication. Running has been a way for me to escape and solve the real problems I have in my life. Running has become an addiction. Running has become a way for me to control pain and pleasure. Running has been a way for me to find the soul behind the man in the mirror.

Leadville will allow me to prove to myself that I’m not a complete failure. But I’ve learned I’m not a failure through the process.

Leadville has given me an opportunity to face and accept that I am good enough. It’s helped me learn that I don’t need the approval of others to see myself in a positive light.

Leadville gave me the courage to set a big goal and pursue the goal with everything I have. I’ve learned to never give up. I’ve learned that failure is part of the process and shouldn’t stop us from moving forward.

I’ve always been scared of how people would view me when they knew about my eating disorders. I’ve always been fearful of being a fraud when people found out about my addictions to overeating which turned to an addiction of undereating. I have wondered how people would view me when they found out running had become an addiction to overcome depression… Leadville was supposed to be proof to myself that I’m not a failure. But I’ve learned I’m not a failure. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. No, I haven’t done everything right. At the end of the day, I’ve learned from my mistakes and I hope other people can learn from them too.

Very few people know about my anorexia. People see my alcohol use, but not the extent of it. I put on a smile for others so people don’t see the pain and problems behind my eyes. Although I don’t lie, I hide. I hide the pain. I hide my darkest struggles. I’ve been hiding because I’m scared of the judgment and opinions of others. I’m scared of how people perceive me because I’ve been judged and ridiculed all my life. I’ve never been good enough. I’ve always been made fun of. I’ve never had anyone that I could be 100% open and honest with and have no regrets of what I say or what I’ve done. It wasn’t until I spoke to David Clark that I realized that I needed to open up and tell my whole story. It was David that helped me understand that I don’t need Leadville. I don’t have to hide anymore. I don’t have to care what other people think of me, as long as what I think of myself is loving, caring, and positive.

I don’t take back any of my experiences, my failures, bad decisions, or anything else that has shaped me to who I am today. I don’t regret the feelings I’ve felt, the failures I’ve endured, my darkest days and loneliest nights because I wouldn’t be who I am today if I wouldn’t have gone through the bad days.

The sunrise is the most beautiful part of the day because it is a reminder that today is new and fresh. The sunset of yesterday is gone and we cannot change what was done yesterday. We can only hope to live today to the fullest because tomorrow is not guaranteed. We must accept the dark with the light, the rain with the rainbow, the winter with the summer and an end with every beginning. As sad as I am to see Leadville as an end, I look forward to the new beginnings that it will bring. Success or failure in Leadville will not define my worth, because it has already shown me my best and my worst. I’ve already tried out run the man in the mirror but when he caught up to me, I learned how great of a person I’ve been running away from. For the first time in my life, I can finally accept the person staring back at me.

“Someday we will find what we are looking for. Or maybe we won’t. Maybe we will find something much greater than that. “Book of Prosperity”

“I am the man in the mirror, anything you see in me is in you, I am you, and when you can admit that, you will be free. For I am just a mirror.” Unknown

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.

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  1. Thank you for this post. I used training for an ultra marathon as a way to punish myself after I had an abortion in 2016. I over-trained, under-ate, and just generally made myself miserable in the search for redemption. Mercifully, running teaches us that we need to be kind and forgiving with ourselves, and that even in the face of great adversity we are capable of recovering and moving forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this. We are all so alike. Our struggles, pain, hopes and dreams…. all so similar and yet so personal and unique. Thank you for saying it all so well💗♥💙

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ” Leadville was supposed to be proof to myself that I’m not a failure” – This. I can relate to this statement on so many levels. So many puzzle pieces that I’m slowly putting together over the last year. This one fits really nicely. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I don’t have what it takes to even get up and walk daily let alone run. Nothing in me cares anymore. Without the ability to pleasure through food I just can’t cope. I don’t know how to cope without pleasure eating so I just stay the same.

    You have achieved even through the depression. How do you do it? I don’t know but you should be proud. I’m proud of you! And I love who you are 💜


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