A friend recently asked me if I would share some advice to people who are either new to running or who are exploring the sport of running. The first thing that came to my mind was "tell them to look up Couch-to-5K (C25K)”. It is hands-down the best program I have ever seen. You can download apps. You can find it in any internet search. You can probably even find free, printable training copies on Pinterest." However, it is my belief that the real advice isn't a training plan, it is a mindset. I'd like to share my brother's story because 1)it is incredible, and 2)I love sharing other people's successes more than my own. So here goes...
April 2012, I make the drive from North Carolina down to South Texas so I can participate in my first Half-Ironman. My Marine/husband was deployed so I asked my family to make the drive down there to support me because I was nervous about the race. The race was fun, and I had a wonderful experience, but the person who had the most profound experience there was my younger brother, Tomas. He saw athletes of all ages and sizes, and he thought to himself, "heck, if they can do it, I can too." Now, this is quite a statement because my brother is a big dude, and there are not a lot of big dudes doing endurance sports, but he got in his brain that he was going to do it, so he decided to JUST START.
We arrived back to his home, in Refugio, Texas a few days later, and he and I began his training. I think he was able to slowly shuffle to the end of the block. Then we walked a few more blocks. We did it again and again until it was time for me to leave. I left; he kept shuffling. Slowly but surely, his shuffle distance got longer and longer. He religiously stuck to his C25K plan, and by the end of May he was ready for a local race. At this point in time he whole-heartedly knew that he could be a participant in endurance sports. He had made up his mind.
He quickly worked his way up from the 5K to the 10K, and then he asked me for a training plan because he was ready to take on the sport of MARATHON!!! I referred him back to the book that got me started. The irony is that he is the one who believed in me before I believed in myself, and he bought me my first running book. It has a wonderful training plan built in, and I still use it almost 40 marathons later.
There were a few things that I witnessed from the sidelines. He took in a lot of positivity from other people. He shut out any noise from anyone who ever had any doubts. He got buy-in from his beautiful wife. (Running would now play a part in weekend plans, early mornings, and with 3 little kids, his wife had to be supportive.) He also moved my mother into their home so she could help their very busy family. (No complaints from Grandma Perla). He made adjustments to his nutrition, and for this season of his life, he was ALL-IN. He was COMMITTED, and he was making progress. He ran in the heat of the summer, and he did not miss any of his training runs. He trained in the fall, and worked his way up to a half-marathon. He even convinced some of us to register for the Houston Marathon which would take place in January 2013. Finding running buddies to get excited about your first marathon is always a good thing.
We flew to Houston from various parts of the country, and we met up to run. The weather was grueling. It was windy, rainy, and cold, and Tomas smiled the whole way. He would become a MARATHONER. He would become and ENDURANCE ATHLETE. Months of CONSISTENT work would pay off on this special day. Our family celebrated, and we created beautiful memories. He included us in his accomplishment, and for that, I will always be grateful.
He has since run a few more marathons, run a marathon on a Saturday, and then he ran another one the next day in a different state. He has also run an ultra marathon and is working his way to running a marathon in each of the 50 states.
When you think something is big, or it scares you, or you wonder if you can do it, just know you can. It will take commitment, and it will take work. You just have to remind yourself, EVERY SINGLE DAY, that IT IS POSSIBLE, and if you can only get to the end of the block, just remember that if you can get to the end of the block, then over time, you can get to the finish line of a marathon. Tomas is proof.