When I signed up for Genesis Running I first thought I may have bit off more than I could chew. I knew I could make it to the first class but had no idea where I was going to end up from there. At 38 years old I had not had a regular exercise routine for over 20 years. Weighing over 320lbs and 6' 4" inches tall I knew I didn't have the stereotypical runners body often associated with television ads. I have been a volunteer firefighter for nearly 22 years but lacked a physical fitness routine. As the WV Lead Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation: Everyone Goes Home Program I teach other firefighters this program including the 16 Life Safety Initiatives to prevent firefighter line of duty deaths. One of the initiatives (#6) is Health and Physical Fitness, a topic I often chose to speak on quickly then move on. Unfortunately, heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters each year.
Although I do regular medical screenings, I had reached level zero for physical fitness. I knew I had to get reengaged in physical fitness and practice what I had preached to other firefighters in our training. At the end of the day I did not want to be a statistic in the programs I taught. The motivation for me taking the class was probably unlike anyone else's goal. I had a very simple goal: I wanted to live. I did not want to die and be a statistic.
Genesis Running got me jumpstarted on the right track after 20 years. I was off the couch and reengaged in my health and fitness.
As I went through class I made several personal goals for myself for our nine week spring class. My first goal was to attend class each week. My second goal was to complete each workout. My third goal was to complete the Hope Run (Oh boy, did we all surprise ourselves there). My forth goal was to complete the class and be able to run most of the 5K race without walking. I knew from the start I was going to give it everything I had and was going to cross the finish line (maybe even after everyone else has went on home, but still cross it).
Genesis Running Group has taught me many things and I will share a few with you. First, it has taught me that I can do anything and probably do it a little bit longer than I thought I could. Second, it taught me that its okay to go as easy as you need too as long as you complete your workouts, use the correct form and pace yourself. Third, that if you need a friend or support with your running all you have to do is look around, because everyone is on YOUR team. Although everyone has different personal goals we are all in this together. Fourth, it has taught me to be accountable and disciplined. I tried my very best to never miss a workout. I ran in the blistering heat, the pouring rain, on treadmills in two states while traveling and a couple times after being in a car for 10 plus hours in a day. The key was to never make excuses, but to always hold yourself accountable with your goals in mind.
Although I still don't have that stereotypical runners body, I am now proud to say I am a runner just the same. I have challenged my body but most importantly have challenged my mind. I will only get stronger and faster from here. But I will never forget those so important words that got me through, "Easy Start, Strong Finish" as Coach Matt often reminds us. The amazing coaches and our peer's full support truly make this an exceptional program and is the difference in doing it with Genesis versus doing it alone.
I am very blessed to be part of the Genesis Running Group and cant wait to progress through the other classes and help others as they have helped me. I now love to run and hope to be able to do it for many years to come. I want to share my message to let others know they too can take that first step and watch it turn into miles. Genesis running has helped save my life and I know it will help me save the lives of others.