Marathon of Excuses

by Keith Kanderski


I’m 5’6”, which is 2 inches taller than Richard Dreyfus, I’ll have you know. My healthy weight range is between 124 – 155 pounds. My ultimate goal would be around 140 pounds.

I’m a runner. Well, I run races. Okay, I jog races. Fine, I do this walk and jog hybrid while participating in races and then I sprint at the very very very end.

I have a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, and I’ve read each cover from top to bottom. One of these days, I’ll open them up and get some tips. You know, it’s difficult to make time to read the magazines when Netflix Streaming has all five seasons of The A-Team available. ALL FIVE!!! I also love the show Burn Notice. Not until I started re-watching The A-Team did I realize that Burn Notice was really just an updated version of that show, but that’s probably a different article.

“I pity the fool who don’t read Runner’s World.”

In reality, training for a race and losing weight sounds like it should be so easy, right? We all know what we have to do. Eat healthier foods. Drink more water. Exercise regularly. If you are smart about the exercise and running, you will gradually get stronger and faster, avoiding injury. All you need is time and commitment, and you should be able to reach your goals. So, why is it so difficult?!?

I can only speak from “the fat perspective.” Maybe it’s different when you’re skinny and in-shape. Maybe, one day, I will be able to write from that perspective. But, I live in the United States of America (1st in the world by the number of obese people; however, if you look at the percentage of population, I think we just miss the Top 5 at around 33% of the adult population). I live in the Northern Midwest, which can have some severe winters, causing the desire to just stay indoors. I live in the Cleveland, Ohio region, which has some of the finest restaurants in the world, and I live very close to the original Mitchell’s Ice Cream location. What I’m trying to say is that the cards may be stacked against me. Still, I’m going to try my best to join the 33% of Clevelanders who are considered to be of a healthy weight.

So, my 2014 race schedule didn’t go so well. I barely trained (2 half marathons, 1 5k, and 2 5-milers). I had such high hopes but just didn’t get into it. From what I heard, many other runners were having the same issue last year. The race season started out bad with a very cold winter, keeping most people indoors. Maybe everyone just developed bad habits. Even some of my true racer friends were having some difficulties. I don’t know. Maybe we all started around the same time and are all starting to become less enthused with each passing year. Anyway, I’ve decided this is going to be the year to get in shape and to train like I need to in order to have some good races.

To make sure I stuck with my plan, I signed up for the 2015 Cleveland Marathon, which is being held May 17th this year. I ran my first marathon in Chicago in 2013. Due to foot pain, I walked probably 35 – 40% of it. Why the foot pain? I don’t know. I guess eating unhealthy and skipping some training doesn’t help?

I created a running/exercise schedule beginning in early January. My long run was supposed to be on Sundays. I was planning on increasing the mileage by a mile each week. After I hit 14 miles, I was going to have one rest week and drop the mileage down to 7 before continuing on. My short runs (2 – 3 miles) would be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday and Friday were also allocated as gym days after work. I would do DVD/home exercises on Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday would be a rest day. I also started creating a list of foods I should be allowed to eat for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. This was going to be great. I was planning on losing 5 pounds per month and would hopefully be in excellent shape for the race.

On January 1st, I weighed myself. I came in at 190 pounds. 35 pounds over my healthy weight range, and 50 pounds over my ideal weight. The rest of the month I had some good weeks; I had some not-so-good weeks. I exercised but not as much as I should. I think my food choices were pretty good. I was making my lunch at home and bringing it to work. Despite some cold weather, I would run on the indoor track at my local Rec Center, so the weather wasn’t really an issue.

On February 1st, I weighed myself at 183.2 pounds. 6.8 pounds down. I was on the right path. I was ahead of schedule. Snow started falling more. At home, I found myself reaching for more snacks. The diet soda, which I cut down drastically in January, crept back into my life in February. My 2 or 3 20 oz. bottles per week would sometimes reach at a minimum of 1 per day.

If I ever opened up my Runner's World magazine, I'm sure this would be the suggested lunch, right?
If I ever opened up my Runner’s World magazine, I’m sure this would be the suggested lunch, right?

The excuses started to come out again. The battery of my car died. I was supposed to run 11 miles. I guess 6 or 7 is good enough. Do I really want to hit the gym after work today? Instead of drinking water, I was making coffee, but that’s just flavored water, right? Same thing…except for the large amounts of flavored creamer I put in it. Yes. I could get my soup and piece of bread for $5 or little salad for $8. But, for under $5, I can fill up on Chinese food. Protein. Carb. Veggies. It’s all good, right? And economical? I have to look for economical options because I’ve stopped making myself lunch. It’s only natural to stop at Nature’s Bin on the way home and pick up a bag of Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips and eat the entire bag on the way home, right? I could go into the bedroom and exercise to the kettle bell DVD or cardio DVD or the pilates DVD, but I could also sit in a chair and watch The A-Team. You know, I think my legs are hurting a little bit.

Not only do we look for excuses for not reaching our goals, we hope beyond belief to find justified excuses. We can always make a change tomorrow or next month. Tomorrow is so close and makes us feel good because it’s right around the corner, but, in reality, tomorrow never comes. The only thing we can control is today. Whatever the goal is; limiting the beer, telling your wife you love her, donating to a good cause, spending time with the kids, getting healthy, starting a craft project, etc., there is no better time than today to make that change. Yes, there will be hurdles to overcome. Yes, there may be days when you are down about your progress. Overall, there are no excuses for not reaching our goals. It’s all on us.

It’s April, these days I do feel like I’m back on track with the training. I’m filling my water bottle again. I’m excited about reporting on my progress and how well the marathon went. In this series, I am going to be sharing any successful tips that I may stumble upon during these final two and a half months leading up to the race. For me, this will now be a true marathon, instead of just my normal marathon of excuses.

Wish me luck.

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