Friday FITspiration: It’s never too late
Here at runladylike.com, Fridays are all about sharing the inspiring stories of fit people who motivate all of us to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday. My Friday FITspiration series profiles runners, triathletes and casual exercisers who are making choices every day to be as healthy as they can be – in both huge ways and through simple, small victories. Their stories are about the journey of transforming from ordinary to extraordinary each and every day.
“My first race was with 1,000 runners … I wasn’t trying to win anything. I was trying to finish. It didn’t matter at all what any of the other runners were doing. They could be faster, slower, about the same. None of that mattered. It was just me and the distance.” ~Jerry Ruth
Today, I’d like you to meet Jerry Ruth. Jerry lives in Oklahoma with his wife of 33 years and has been on an incredible health journey during the last year. Jerry was always active and physically fit growing up, playing baseball and football in school. When he left high school, he weighed about 180 pounds. When he left college, he weighed 200 pounds. When he met his wife, he weighed 230 pounds. After raising kids and being an empty-nester, he weighed 350 pounds. Then he started running. And that’s where our story begins. Find out why Jerry started running, how it has changed his life and what is ahead for him in 2013.
How long have you been running, and what inspired you to start?
At the beginning of 2012, I weighed the heaviest I’ve ever been – a whopping 350 pounds. I had been big all my married life, but I’d never seen a number that large on the scale. In late 2011 and early 2012, I finally found the motivation to do something about my health. I’m very fortunate I didn’t create any real health issues while being overweight. I started a new eating program on April 2, 2012, and within the first month dropped 35 pounds. Then for the month of May, my son challenged me to “do something” for 30 minutes a day. So I started walking. That’s where the urge to run came in.
I heard about a weight loss challenge here in Oklahoma City where the prize was a new car for the person who lost the largest percentage of weight during a 12-week period. I had done so well my first month I thought I really had a chance in this contest, so I entered it. The culmination of the challenge was a night of fun AND a 5K race called the Midnight Streak. My daughter encouraged me to give running a try, so I said “why not?” I signed up for the race, found a couch to 5K program I liked and set off to get the training done so I would be prepared. The program I used is called 5K101 by Todd Lange. I was up 3 days a week at 5 a.m. to run, and it wasn’t long before running had me hooked.
Finish this sentence: I run because _______________________.
It gives me a great sense of accomplishment, especially when I cross the finish line.
I’ve heard you recently started running 5Ks. What did you enjoy the most about your races?
My first race was with 1,000 runners, but what I really enjoyed about it was ironically the solitude. I wasn’t trying to win anything. I was trying to finish. It didn’t matter at all what any of the other runners were doing. They could be faster, slower, about the same. None of that mattered. It was just me and the distance.
What health-related accomplishment are you most proud of?
Oh, where do I start with this answer? When I started my new eating/exercising program, all of my blood work showed that I was out of the normal range for everything. The very first trigger to go on this journey came when I was discussing my cholesterol with my doctor. My total was not out of range, but the HDL was too low. He said we’d have to talk about getting that up, and I asked how. He said we could medicate for it. I asked if there were other options, and he said, “You could lose the weight.” Then he added: “But you have about a 2 percent chance of doing that.” I am proud to say that when I saw him again for my annual physical, my HDL was right where it should be, and he was very pleased to see that I was one of the 2 percent.
What goal do you most want to accomplish in 2013?
I am signing up for my first half marathon in April, and I want to continue my eating/exercising program to make sure it becomes my long-term lifestyle. I would also like to find ways to inspire others to do the same thing I’ve done. Lose weight naturally. No sugar. No fads. No counting calories.
What is the hardest challenge you have had to overcome? How did you do it?
I had a personality trait that stopped me in the past from reaching my goals: Too much praise too soon for doing well was a problem for me. I would make some weight loss progress and then someone would come along and compliment me and I would think I was done. But I wasn’t. Overcoming this would be key to being successful this time and I did that mainly by clearly stating what my ultimate goal was and enjoying the compliments but not letting those be the end all.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start running or who thinks they can’t do it?
Don’t watch athletes on TV or even your friends who are already active and let that discourage you. Get a good couch to 5K program, and just try it. It isn’t long before you will realize that “this running thing is easier than I thought.” As you progress, you will begin to see you can run further each week. Then it gets inside of you. I see open space in front of me, and the first thing I think of is “I want to run that.”
My wife says she “hates to run,” but she has gone through my couch to 5K program, and now a 3-mile run for her is no big deal. She misses it when we can’t do it. Now she’s a runner too.
Start off slow, build toward the middle, get better toward the end of training, book your first run and GO.
What is your running mantra(s)?
“Now finish the work that you started so that your doing will be equal to your willingness to do.”
I am a Christian and that is a verse from the Bible; 2 Corinthians 8:11. I use it as my guide for a lot of things now. This is what helped me fully understand the weakness I had in the past of not seeing things through. It is so very rewarding to complete a task like this. Crossing the finish line coupled with the effort you know you put in to get to that point is more elating than you can imagine. And it drives you to keep doing it. At least it does for me.
What’s on your iPod right now?
I have about 5 different running playlists that include songs between 160 and 180 beats per minute. “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters is about 182 bpm, and it’s fun to run to because there’s a line that says: “we start out walkin’ and learn to run,” which is exactly what I did.
Are you a morning or an evening runner? If you’re a morning person, what’s your secret to not hitting snooze?
I did all my training for my first 5K at 5 a.m., but now I run later in the day because of winter temperatures. I am clearly a morning person and will return to early morning runs when spring arrives. Here’s my secret to avoiding the snooze button: Put your clock in a place where you have to get up to turn it off. Now that I’m in such better shape, I tend to wake up before the alarm goes off most mornings.
What are you most passionate about? What inspires you the most in life?
The new me is now very passionate about the renewed relationship I have with my wife. There’s not words to describe how life has changed for us. I am inspired in life by now encouraging and helping others to do the same thing for themselves. Life is all about relationships.
What are your 3 favorite running blogs or Web sites?
I became a fan of Todd Lange’s 5K101.com. I log all my workouts at DailyMile.com, but I really like the tools at MapMyRun.com. One more that has interesting health-related content is RealAge.com.
Want more FITspiration? Check out some of these recent features:
- Friday FITspiration: Overcoming an eating disorder by finding freedom in running
- Friday FITspiration: From 240 pounds to 2:57 marathoner
- The most FITspiring stories from 2012
Jerry talked about enjoying “the solitude” during races, even when there are thousands of people in the race. Do you ever feel “alone” in big races? During training, do you enjoy running solo, or do you prefer running with a group?