Running Transformed My Life.

It started right around the time I got my first corporate job in 2014. I’d look around at all the men and I was alarmed. It wasn’t that they were obese – unfortunately Wall Street is notorious for their unspoken laws regarding body image – but rather that you could just tell they were all significantly slimmer in their heyday. I just never wanted to be that dude that fell off. I know it sounds shallow, but my introduction to running was really nothing more and nothing less.

The irony of it is I had already fallen off, years ago, and I hadn’t the slightest clue. To me, I was always just a solid guy -- not skinny, not fat. I went through life with no body image issues, and just viewed running as a preventative measure more than anything. Running was free, able to be done anywhere, and got me sweating – a lot. It checked all the boxes. But if you told me I’d go from that to someone who ran 3 half marathons in 2016 and perhaps a full one day, I would have laughed in your face.

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It was gradual at first, maybe a few pounds, if that. I’d run 1-2 miles as hard as I could, never more than that, feel accomplished, and call it a day. But those few miles in the first few months weren’t really what transformed me. When I look back, I can point to four main contributors:

A Fitbit, A Foreign Treadmill, Harlem Run, and Positive Feedback.

Towards the beginning of my “running journey”, wearable technology was taking off and I loved it. The 10,000 step goal helped me, not only because it compelled me to get active, but also because of the competition with friends (and myself!), and finally being able to numerically assess my activity. I got addicted to the hitting my goal, and for three years, I didn’t miss my goal even ONCE. A major key to transformation is discipline, and also being able to hold yourself accountable. I’d call three years straight discipline.

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The next most important development was a trip I took to Cancun in 2015. In my efforts to keep my Fitbit streak alive, I would head down to the resort’s gym to get my normal 2 mile run in. There was a slight issue, though. The gym’s treadmills showed distance and pace using the metric system. I literally had no idea how far or fast I was running. I just got on, moved the pace up to a comfortable jog, and ran. And ran. And ran.

Luckily, time is the same in all countries, and the 30 minutes I was on was the longest I had ever consecutively run. What I didn’t know up until that point was how I was limiting myself. By just setting the treadmill to 8 mph (7:30 mi/min) and running for two miles, I wasn’t challenging myself to get better, faster or stronger. Being unable to consciously set the treadmill to my norm ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me.

The third contributor was Harlem Run, a dope collective of runners that I saw running one day as I was out shopping. As a new runner, I was way too excited to learn more. After stalking them over the next week on social media, I showed up on the next Monday to join them for the weekly run and it’s been love ever since.

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It’s super important when starting off to have more experienced runners help you out. Just like the Fitbit and the treadmill mishap, they will hold you accountable and push you beyond any limits you naturally set for yourself. I love promoting Harlem Run to my friends, tweeting them on Twitter, and rocking my gear around town. I actually don’t think I’ve ever consciously decided on a Monday not to go. I only miss it if I’m away on a work trip, or vacation. Sometimes they even let me pace when the normal pacers can’t make it!

Finally, the positive feedback. After the vacation, I knew I could run longer than the 2 mile, 15 minute runs I had limited myself to for months. From that point forward, mostly all my runs exceeded thirty minutes, generally falling between 3 and 5 miles. I stopped sprinting, slowed down the pace, and really tried to build up my cardio. And in the next month, everything changed.

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I stopped eating bread and most carbs during the weekdays, ran longer, and made sure to hit my Fitbit goal every day. And almost like magic, the pounds literally started melting off. Every week the scale read a lower number, my once fitted pants became loose fitting, and my runs were way easier. Then it started. All the comments and attention.

External motivation is always good, but you have to also find it within yourself. After awhile, the comments will stop. The transformation will become normalized. The only thing that will keep you grinding, day in and day out, is you. Let the former lead to the latter.

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So that’s my story. In truth, I was bigger than I had ever realized, but still not “huge”. I went from around 215 at my heaviest down to 185 at the peak of my weight loss. I’ve plateaued at about 190/195 now, and I’m happy here. Committing to yourself and your health is a decision I think every young person needs to make. It’s like a 401K – invest now, and reap the benefits for years to come. Don’t, and you’ll be playing catch up for the rest of your life.  I am grateful to everyone who has been with me on this ride, and would love to help others see the light as well.

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- Ike

 

Ike OnyeadorComment
Harlem Run News - May 2018

Hello, everyone! We're very excited for the upcoming month, with racing season in full effect. As always, thank you for coming out to our events -- rain or shine -- and being active members of the Harlem Run family. We've got plenty coming up, so let's break it all down.

Saturday, May 19 | 8am
Brooklyn Half Marathon Cheer Station & After Party

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Join us in cheering on our half- marathoners this Saturday at the Mile 9 Marker. Be on the lookout for Captain Raydime on Avenue J & Coney Island Ave around 8am. Wear Harlem Run Gear to show your support!

After the run, we will head to Berg'n (899 Bergen St., Brooklyn) for happy hour drink & food specials. Bring your medals! 

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Monday, May 28
Annual Memorial Day Picnic

One of our favorite days of the year! Join us for food, fun, and a light, casual run to celebrate Memorial Day. Details TBD.

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Sunday, June 17 | 10am
Father's Day 5K

What better way to celebrate the fathers in your life with a 5K in Harlem? We will host a run, open to all ages and ability levels and raise money for Harlem United. This event will happen in place of the Harlem 1 Miler this year due to permit issues.

Meet at 110th St. & Lenox in Central Park for a fun run. Harlem Run Gear will be available (perfect gift for your father!) and the run will be free of charge. We're looking forward to seeing you there and making this your best, healthiest Father's Day yet. 

Harlem Run Takes on Bear Mountain

Last week, Pacer Philippa & Harlem Run regular, Portia, organized a group hike to Bear Mountain. During this day trip out of the city, we were able to breathe fresher air, explore new trails, and reflect on how fitness weaves its way into our lives in various forms.  In this week's blog, Chris and Anthony share what this hiking experience was like for them. 

Are you interested in exploring different areas while still staying active? Harlem Run & Under Armour are headed to the mountains! Although instead of Bear Mt., we'll be headed a bit farther. We're going to be repping Harlem Run during UA's Mountain Series, and we want runners & walkers of all ability levels to join us! 

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These events will take place in Colorado from July 13-15 and Killington, Vermont from August 24-26. Please visit THIS POLL for more pricing information and to express your interest.  Please also see the above image for pricing on individual races. We're very excited about this event and hope that you can make it! 

Now, back to hiking...

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Anthony

What an exciting day of being outdoors and meeting new people while enjoying time with friends.  Hiking at Bear Mountain was a good push for me. The hike worked me out. The best part of the hike was reaching the tower at the top and seeing the beautiful view and taking that in with great friends.

Chris

Hiking bear mountain was a great experience. In part because as people of color we're not know for enjoying nature,  but also as transplants to New York we don't often leave the city.

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What's your favorite part about being outdoors? Drop us a line in the comments! And let us know if you'll be joining us for the UA Mountain Series.