I’m E.J., also known as PaleoMarine. As my name implies, I am a Marine (active duty from 1986-1997), current National Guard soldier, and Paleo adherent. After leaving active duty, I worked as a training delivery specialist, developer, and software engineer before becoming a technical writer. Those jobs, as compared to what I did in the Marines, were very sedentary and I gained weight. A lot of weight. I went from 180 lbs when I got out of the Marines to over 312 lbs. I gained this weight so fast that I have stretch marks. This was obviously not healthy, but I ignored my weight for a decade.
I finally hit a point at which I could no longer feel comfortable allowing myself to be so unfit and unhealthy. I had to change my entire life. I did so by doing a Whole30 with my wife and then adopting the Paleo lifestyle. Within a year, I lost 100 lbs without any form of exercise. I then got the crazy idea of going into the National Guard, but I needed to get into shape. Plus, I was beginning to experience a dramatic slowing of my progress toward my final weight loss goal, so I began running on September 1, 2016.
My first run was slow but steady. I ran for 20 minutes without stopping. My pace was very slow as well, but this first run wasn’t about getting out there and setting records. It was about getting out there, starting a healthy habit, and making progress toward becoming a runner.
The next few runs were all about the same. Once again, these runs were about consistency, keeping a steady pace, and most importantly, not quitting. Within three weeks of starting, I ran my first 5k distance while on a weekend getaway with my wife to San Antonio. We ran on the Riverwalk and it was a tranformative experience for me. I actually enjoyed the feeling of running, of watching the scenery go by, of experiencing the Riverwalk in a way I never did before having been there dozens of times in the past. When I finished, it felt great. Probably my greatest sense of accomplishment since I began running to that point.
From this point forward, I was hooked. I began feeling the need to get out and run. I tried running daily, but this proved to be too much for my muscles. They had, after all, not performed any serious exercise in over a decade. I needed to take things slowly and to allow my body to heal and rebuild between runs. I decided upon a plan where I would run M-W-F and take the weekends off. This has been my plan for the past five months, and it’s been working remarkably well for me.
I ran my first organized 5k in December, 2016. What is noteworthy about this run is not that it is my first organized 5k since I was on active duty, but a year earlier, my wife Sherry had run her first organized 5k. She asked me after she was done if I thought I might want to run it with her the following year to which I emphatically replied, “There is no way I will be running any 5k’s. Ever.” She was disappointed but she respected my stance and didn’t push it. She didn’t even mention it until after our run in San Antonio. By then, I was in, and we signed up for the 2016 run as soon as we got home.
Since that run, I’ve made 3 miles my minimum run distance, and 30 minutes the minimum run time. I do this three times a week and I typically shoot for 3.5 to 3.8 miles. If I am feeling good while running, I’ll extend the run. If I feel particularly tired, run down, or stressed, I’ll run a shorter distance at an easier pace.
My personal best 3+ mile pace has been 8:57 and my best half-mile split was an 8:08 pace. My farthest distance run so far has been 5.02 miles. I am building up to longer distance and a faster pace, but I am doing so slowly. I’m in no rush to get any faster or run any longer distances anytime soon. I am trying my hardest to avoid injury and pain. Running is never without discomfort, but pain is something I try to avoid. Discomfort is that burning feeling you get in your muscles after a run. Pain is when you pull or break something.
I hope that my blog gives you motivation or inspiration to get out there and do this yourself. I was a person who hated running or exercise of any type, shape, or form. I railed against it for many years, and even when I was losing weight quickly, I was defiant about starting any exercise. In retrospect, I am not unhappy with the fact I lost the weight without exercise, but now I wish I’d have started sooner if only because I’d be farther along in my running journey now than I am.
Feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or comments you have! I’d love to hear from you!