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I Am A Runner: I Ran 1,000 Miles in 1 year!
From struggling to run a half mile 1.5 years ago, to conquering 1,000 miles in just a year!
After we sold Liquid Web, I spent short but very rewarding time as the Entrepreneur In Residence at Michigan State University. I remember one moment so vividly it hurts sometimes.
As I remember it, my co-worker suggested we walk across campus to explore a new technology developed by PhD researchers, which we believed had potential for commercialization into a product. We strolled through the picturesque MSU campus on a beautiful Michigan summer day, with temperatures around 80 degrees.
Within about 10 minutes of a walking, my sweating started. Sweat was beading up on my face, under my arms, and on top of my head. The sweat was starting to show through my shirt and this caused me to get self conscious that people were looking at me in disgust. The anxiety about my sweating only made matters worse and led to more sweating. A problem that seemed to compound on itself.
This was around the time when I was my most overweight. I was about 262 lbs and I was extremely out of shape. As evidenced by the fact that a simple walk in 80 degree heat made me sweat so badly I almost soaked through my shirt. It was horribly embarrassing. I kept wondering what my co-workers were thinking. I’m sure they didn’t care but I was pretty disgusted with myself. Not that I was ashamed of my weight. It was that I was ashamed of how badly I had treated my body.
Simple tasks left me drained. In a warm room, I'd sweat profusely. I knew I had to change, but I didn’t have the discipline or will power to do it. What was even more frustrating was that I knew exactly what I needed to do! It wasn’t complicated.
Move more, eat less/better, and drink fewer of my calories. It wasn’t rocket science. But I just couldn’t do it. At that time, I literally couldn’t run around my small neighborhood block without stopping. I was in the worst shape of my life.
Today, as I write this at 42 years old, I can pretty confidently say that I’m in the best shape of my life. I can run further, lift heavier weights, and my cardio fitness is the highest I’ve ever recorded.
Over the last week, I celebrated two significant milestones in my running journey. Firstly, I completed 1,003 miles in 365 days. Secondly, I broke the 7-minute mile mark, finishing a mile in 6:58.
What makes these achievements even more special to me is that I capped off the 1,000 miles with a half marathon, recording my third-best time for the distance. Moreover, my sub-7-minute mile wasn't just a standalone sprint; it was part of a 5k run.
As I’ve stated before, my goal is simple: To live a long time and die quickly. Improving my cardio fitness and increasing my strength are two of the most critical components of achieving that mission.
How did I do it? By adopting the identity of someone that could do it.
The book Atomic Habit talks about having an “Identity Shift”. Instead of starting with a goal in mind, for example, the goal to run 1,000 miles in 365 days, which can seem like an impossible task and a monumental undertaking, you want to adopt the behaviors and habits that align with that goal. “We are what we repeatedly do.”
I did not start out with the goal to run 1,000 miles in a year or complete a mile in under 7 minutes. That would have scared the shit out of me. Instead, I adopted the identity of someone that could do it. I wasn’t “trying to run 1,000 miles in a year”, I simply adopted the identity: I am a runner!
It can seem like a semantic game I’m playing. But it is actually very powerful. Think about what a runner does… They set aside time for running, they have running shoes, they put on their shoes, and most importantly - they run. But it goes deeper than that. Runners that plan to go on a run in the morning probably don’t get shit faced the night before. They probably eat healthy. They eat a lot of protein. They take care of their knees.
This is the identity of a runner. All of those things are much easier to do everyday than running 1,000 miles in a year. These are habits that you can form. And guess what, all of those habits when put together end up leading you to run 1,000 miles in a year!
The identity shift is so important. It also helped in my journey to escape alcohol. Think about this example.
In a social situation, when offered a drink at a party, if you were to say "I can't drink tonight," or “I’m not drinking for October”, your friends might respond with a bit of friendly peer pressure to try to entice you to have just one drink. But what if instead you said: "I don't drink." The latter is a statement of identity, which is more powerful and less likely to be met with peer pressure. You have adopted the identity of someone that doesn’t drink.
But back to my original story about the walk across MSU campus. When I was out of shape, I was constantly hot and sweat all the time. Today, it’s more likely that I am comfortable or cold. My body heat regulation problem is completely solved and I have a lot less anxiety about it. Now I’m more likely to pack a sweat shirt than 5 extra undershirts to absorb all the excess sweat. This has made me a lot less anxious in social situations.
I want to thank each and every one of you for reading this and supporting my journey. Please remember that you can respond to this email and it goes directly to me and I read and reply to every single email. Also know that you can comment below.
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Honestly, Thank You!