Adrian Crouch Chase Fear: How marathons changed my life
Let me travel back in time...4 years ago...there I was, 20 years old, living a sedentary lifestyle at a whopping 230 lbs. I pushed myself into a deep depressive state, and there were some days when I didn't even want to get out of bed, nor did I feel like I had a reason for doing so. To rid me of this empty void within my heart and soul, I brainwashed myself into thinking that food was my only comfort in life. My hatred towards myself became so strong that I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was slowly killing myself with food...something whose purpose, ironically, is to aid in our survival. It wasn't until one night, in April of 2009, when I woke up and realized that it was time to make a change.
- I was tired of having my quality of life go down as the numbers went up.
- I was tired of feeling breathless after hauling myself up a single flight of stairs.
- I was tired of avoiding social gatherings because I was too embarrassed of my existence.
- Most importantly, I was tired of not living.
Believe it or not, I came to terms with my food addiction and was inspired to transform myself by watchingThe Biggest Loser. And after making necessary lifestyle changes, I successfully lost 110 lbs. Unfortunately, I didn't focus on my psychological well-being. I was still stricken with fear. I was chained to the scale, my life controlled by numbers, and I lost all sense of reality. After some time, my inner strength began slipping through the cracks. Self-sabotage pushed me too far in the other direction, and I found myself in the same deep depressive state that I was in at 230 lbs.
If I hadn't met a runner in late 2010, I have no idea where I'd be today. When I first met this person, I thought, "Running? How can anyone actually enjoy running?" The word alone made me cringe. In fact, I was terrified of running because I saw it as a form of torture or punishment. Prior to being reintroduced to the sport, I associated running with painful memories from gym class where I recall barely being able to run for short bursts without being struck with fatigue and shortness of breath. Running made me feel weak and defeated. But the more I heard him talk about running, revealing his passion, the more intrigued I became. I started reading about running and came across the term that most avid runners are familiar with; "runner's high." I didn't understand it, and for some time, I don't think I wanted to. However, eventually I wanted to understand why people run, and more importantly, why my friend runs. I began testing my limits on the treadmill in January of 2011, and once I discovered how quickly I was progressing, I didn't want to retire my shoes anytime soon.
When I first got into running, I thought that it would be 5Ks and nothing more. But after watching the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 15, 2011, something struck me like a bolt of lightning. When I saw the emotions behind the runner's eyes, I unexpectedly saw running in an entirely new light. It became very obvious that running was more than a physical challenge. It's also a challenge on one's state of mentality. When I got home, I couldn't stop thinking about running. I couldn't stop myself from lacing up my shoes and taking a stride towards greatness. I had no planned distance in mind. I just ran. I found the ambition, backbone, and stamina to triumphantly run 13.1 miles after having only ran a personal outdoor distance record of 6.2 miles. It still boggles my mind to this very day. The moment I saw 13.1 on my Garmin watch, I stood outside, balling my eyes out. This is the day and the moment when running a full marathon became a goal of mine.
Fast forwarding 2 years from January 2011, here I am 29 races later, a 2x marathoner and an ultramarathoner. What this journey has given me is far beyond what I can put into words. Running has trained me to run the day and to not let the day run me. I put on my cape, chased my fears, and rescued myself. I am my hero. I am me. I am Adrian. I'm not just a runner. I'm someone with a strong passion for life. Even when a gust of wind crosses my path, I will continue to keep my flame burning bright.
How running has transformed my life:
Running has transformed my life in so many ways. It's allowed me to open my eyes. I feel like I'm more than just a body. Running gives me freedom - a celebration of the soul. It gives me the choice to control my own suffering, and something about this draws me to the sport. I need obstacles in my life, and running has given me that and in turn has taught me how to survive, thrive, and be.
I love what running has done for me, mentally and physically. I run to challenge myself. I run to be fearless. I run to clear my wildly rampant thoughts. I love every painstakingly triumphant moment. I sometimes think, "Why do I do this to myself?" But when I reach a new personal best or cross another finish line, that's when I get my answer. I enjoy focusing on my breath and feeling the wind rush past me. I enjoy the rhythm of my cadence and sound of the earth beneath the soles souls of my shoes. An overwhelming sense of pride rushes through me every single time I lace up my shoes. Running doesn't define me. I define running.
Most importantly, going back to my previous struggles, running has allowed me to have a healthy relationship with food. I'm now able to view food as fuel for my performance rather than the enemy. I depend on proper nourishment in order to feed my passion. Since becoming a runner, I've stopped daily weigh-ins, I've gained muscle mass, I consume twice as many calories, and I've learned to love and appreciate healthy, natural foods. But now when I treat myself, it actually feels like a treat - not a glutton for punishment. Cake tastes so much better when you don't eat it too often!
Check Adrian's awesome Hints and Tips guide to training for and running in your first marathon.
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