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“I love the benefits of running however, I didn’t always love to run” – Stephen Jackson

My Health Statistics – Then & Now

Stephen Jackson overweight

Year November 2011

  • Age – 55
  • Height – 6’2″”
  • Weight – 290lbs.
  • Blood Pressure – 165/96
  • Blood Sugar – 157 morning fast
  • Cholesterol – 250/26

Stephen Jackson holding the Staten Island Half Marathonmedal

Year July 2014

  • Age – 58
  • Height – 6’2″”
  • Weight – 225lbs.
  • Blood Pressure – 125/81
  • Blood Sugar – 99 morning fast
  • Cholesterol – 178/48

It’s interesting that as a kid, teenager and young adult I ran and I enjoyed running except for when I was running away from trouble. I even ran track in high school. However, somewhere along the way I began to dislike running and as I got close to being 50 years old I would say I hated running.

I think I remember when it happened. Around my 45th birthday my cholesterol and weight was rising in a bad way and my doctor suggested that I needed more exercise and to stop eating certain foods. So I purchased what became the 1st of 2 treadmills and started running regularly. During one of those treadmill runs I thought it would be great to run in the NYC marathon by my 50th birthday. So one day I went outside and ran around the park and I HATED IT. My legs and feet hurt. my chest was collapsing as I struggled to breath and that was the last time I attempted to run outdoors.

As I got into my 50’s my weight, blood pressure continued to increase and I was taking Lipitor for my cholesterol as well as medication for my blood pressure. In 2009 I was diagnosed with Diabetes as my blood sugar had climbed to the 150’s. As I met with the diabetic doctor I was given the option of exercising and eating better instead of medication. I began a food journal regular bike riding and improved what I ate. Within 6 months my blood sugar was back to normal numbers and even my AC1 was in the normal range.

By 2011 I was bike riding regularly during the spring and summer however I was still inactive during the winter months and my weight continued to increase by November 2011 I was close to or over 290lbs. Still taking medication for blood pressure and cholesterol I was heading toward an early death. I’m certain of this as heart disease runs in my family. all ofPicture of Stephen Jackson November 2011 my uncles on my mother side of the family died of heart attacks in their 50’s and even my mother and her 3 sisters have had heart attacks. My mother who is health conscience have suffered 2 heart attacks. However, it was that picture on the right which is how I looked in November 2011 speaking to a group of teens that got me angry enough to change my health habits.

I began working out regularly in the evenings doing strength training and aerobics. I knew that while it was a good start it wouldn’t be enough to get to the physical condition I desired. By January of 2012 I decided that I need to train for something BIG, like a marathon, like the New York City Marathon. But wait a minute I don’t like to run. How will I manage to train to run a marathon when I don’t like outdoor running?

Fortunately I have taken leadership training classes through Discover Leadership Training. I was impressed with DLT’s owner and founder Mike Jones who have run several marathons. He even ran a marathon 6 months after having heart surgery. I learned in leadership training that “if I change my focus I will change my outcome.” and “I have to change my approach to get different results.” I like bike riding however, it wasn’t working out well for my health. Should I add running and training for the marathon? The benefits of training should get me where I want to be physically and mentally. Lucky for me I have a daughter who regularly run and runs well. I asked my daughter would she run in the marathon with me and she agreed. Now I’m ready I have an accountability partner to encourage me to reach my outcome of running in the New York City Marathon.

With my focus on running a marathon the universe conspired for my success. You see there are 3 ways to get into the MapMyRun 1st recorded run for Stephen JacksonNew York City Marathon. through a lottery pick, qualify by finishing another marathon in a certain amount of time, or fund raise for a chosen charity. I chose to enter the lottery. Good choice as I was chosen on my 1st entry attempt. Now its real I’m in, I’m excited for 2 minutes and then the reality sets in am I’m really going to train to run 26.2 miles? I did my 1st run/walk the next morning after I was selected. I downloaded MapMyRun on my Android phone and you can see the results of that 1st run. BTW I have been using MapMyRun since and I have more than a year of runs stored.

As I begin training I also began researching how to run further, run faster and run without injury to myself. After all of the research I got a coach to assist me with running. My running coach worked on my running form and the psychology of running. You see running creates some weird conversations with yourself. Some of those conversations can turn into shouting matches between what you want and what your body wants. My coach helped me understand the conversations and how to respond.

Soon afterward I began looking forward to my runs and at some point running became a habit that I enjoyed. My eating improved as I ate more fruits and vegetables and watched my portions. Eating better allowed me to run better as I had the right fuel in my body. I ran my 1st race on July 1st in the New York Road Runners Queens 10K. I did Stephen Jackson finishingthe Queens 10Kgood even through I made some mistakes like not eating enough the night before and not running with my water bottles as it was about 84 degrees and humid at race time. Despite those minor mistakes I finished the race and I was looking forward to more races. I have ran in about 25 races since that 10K including 4 half marathons. Super Storm Sandy delayed my 1st marathon attempt but I’m not upset or angry because the training has provided me some amazing benefits.

Another benefit to my running is the people around me who have begun running because of my commitment to running and improving my health. All of my daughters now run regularly and visit the gyms or participate in other physical activities. I have friends on Facebook who have seen my runs on MapMyRun who decided to run and I have gotten plenty of support to continue along this path from my Facebook friends.

Now I like to run because I love the benefits of running. I love that I am no longer taking medication, I love that I have gone from a 46 waist to a 38 waist. I love that I have more energy to do the things that I enjoy, I love that my family and some friends have followed my example to work out and eat well and I love that I feel more alive now.

That’s my story of why I run. This story will continue in my Blog posts as I have yet to run my 1st marathon. I am scheduled to run in the 2013 New York City Marathon and I ran enough races to qualify for the 2014 New York City Marathon as well. I will also be running in the 2014 Houston Marathon as I got in on my 1st lottery attempt. I’m setting a precedent with 1st attempts. I also plan on running a half marathon in all 50 states. You get a special medal for that accomplishment http://www.halfmarathonclub.com/. I also plan on becoming a Half Fanatic Runner by completing 3 half marathons in less than 90 days this fall http://www.halffanatics.com/. Come back often as this is a never ending story because my journey is “NOT OVER.”

Update June 2014 – In November of 2013 I ran the NYC Marathon and wrote about my experience in a Blog post. I also ran the Trenton Half Marathon on November 9th and the Richmond Marathon on November 16th. Running in those 3 races qualified me as Half Fanatic and a Marathon Maniac.