Restoring the Running Man

My running career resumed on January 5, 2015, when I put on my GPS watch and competition running shoes and took off for a 45-minute run.

My running career resumed on January 5, 2015, when I put on my GPS watch and competition running shoes and took off for a 45-minute run. It was frigid and dark, but after about 7 minutes, I was as warm as if I were running inside.

After years of finding running mundane, I was happy to be out there again. When I finished my run, I went inside my gym to hit the hot tub and take a steam—a just reward for killing myself for 45 minutes.

As I was going inside, a gentleman told me, “You know, it’s only going to get colder.”

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I’ll just run faster.”

I haven’t had a runner’s swagger in years, but it came out as if I had just run a marathon. I had a full force runner’s high endorphin rush going on. I felt great for hours afterward, but the only problem was that I couldn’t exactly boast about my speed, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to do so again.

At the peak of my career in 2006, I was able to run a 6:20 mile without breaking a sweat. My first night out, I was running double that. The next day, on a gorgeous indoor track, I wound up even slower due to my legs fatiguing early into the run.

The pain was a good sign, because my legs were starting to build up again. I’ll probably be sporting a limp for the next month or so, but I’m perfectly okay with that.

Running at such a heavy weight—246 lbs on January 4, 2015—is going to pay off once it starts coming down. Compared to my competition weight of 200 lbs, this is like running with Yoda on my back. Strong with the Force, young Skywalker is.

As I lighten up, I’ll still have the power from running heavy. As I said before, the greatest thing to happen in my running career was weighing 306 lbs at one point in my life. Moving all of that around for a few years developed my cardiovascular engine and solidified my skeletal structure to that of a Kryptonian.

My lungs are so long that they don’t fit on a normal chest X-ray. When I had my pulmonary output analyzed, Ken Rundell, PhD, an Olympic biathlon coach, was amazed by how much air I could move. He referred to me as a powerful runner. I was built to travel very far at a decent rate of speed.

When I ran a 50K trail ultra-marathon, I beat second place by 42 minutes. In a 5K a few years before, the same runner beat me by 3 minutes. It’s all relative to how you are built and how you use your talents.

As Steve Prefontaine once put it, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” For too long, I did exactly that. Now, it’s great to be back.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is diesel powered.