New Balance Running ShoesIn seventh grade, I ran a 6:30 mile on a chilly, early Spring morning around the block in practice. Later that year, I swore to never run in public again as I tripped over (more than one) hurdle at the High School District Track Meet at Greene County Tech.

In the summer of 2010, I picked up running (more-so walking/jogging) on a semi-regular basis around the Rita Blanca Lake in Dalhart, Texas. It was a reprieve from work at the feedlot and a place to work with my young dog on 8 miles of paved and dirt trails.

In 2012 and 2013, I picked up running on the road by my house to relieve stress from graduate school. Usually by myself in an empty subdivision going only 3 miles, and eventually 6 miles once or twice. I finally got up the courage to run with a group for the first time on a 3-mile fun run at the local beer market with fellow graduate students and ran my first official (and solo) race at the Flying Pint 5k Run in Knoxville that Spring. My second race was the Fourth of July night run with a few friends.

Had you told me in these years that 8 miles can be considered an ‘easy run’, I’d have called you CRAZY!

Last summer, I ran 13 miles (over a 24 hour span) in the 200-mile Napa Valley Ragnar Relay with Team Beef. I also won my age category in a local 5k, and ran two 10k races in Montana.

This year, I’ve signed up for at least one race for April, May, June (2) and July, and am looking for more to fill out my summer. Wait, I might indeed be a little bit crazy. Last year I logged 334 miles in spite of a vehicle accident. In March 2015, alone, I logged 105 miles.

The look of exhaustion after running 13 miles for the first time.
The look of exhaustion after running 13 miles for the first time.

Late last year, I set a goal to run a half marathon distance by the end of March. I missed that mark by 7 days. Last Tuesday, I headed out with the intentions of a long run (which has consisted of 8-10 miles over the past months) and ended up going a full 13.15 miles before collapsing on my front yard. It was amazing, awesome and I finished with an 8:46 pace.

I ran 13 miles and it didn’t kill me! And it was fun in a fulfilling, dehydrated, exhausted, crazy kind of way.

Running actually has become an enjoyable experience. The first mile is never easy. I hit a sure-enough plateau at 3-miles, launched to 6 miles and have somehow found myself running 8 miles on a regular basis. I’m running at least 4-5 days a week, averaging 22 miles per week over the past 9 weeks.

I’ve learned that food is fuel and it definitely matters what you put in your body if you expect to perform – both mentally and physically. I’m not talking GMO, natural, organic or [insert latest buzzword]. It’s about staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet from all food groups, avoiding empty calories, allowing yourself treats, and making sure you meet your requirements.

Tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal has helped significantly in identify where I’m falling short or where I tend to splurge. Like @REAL_BEEFMAN, Daren Williams, I found I wasn’t necessarily consuming enough protein on days with heavy exercise. Fortunately, tracking my meals and signing up for the 30 Day Protein Challenge have helped to improve that.

Later this month, I’ll run my first race of the season, followed soon after by a 12k trail run in the hills south of Helena. Cross my fingers I get in enough hill time to compete well in the Don’t Fence Me In run this year! Wish me luck on my training.

5k 13k swag team beef stickersWe’re still looking for a few #TeamBeef members on our Ragnar Relay this year, and looking for a few team sponsors as well. We’ll decorate our vans once again with the ranch brands for those who donate, so feel free to let me know if you’d like to help us represent beef and ranchers in the Northwest Passage this year.

And for those of you who think I’m crazy – which I probably am – running isn’t impossible. There’s an amazing supportive community online and out on the trails. It’s a great way to take in the view, get some fresh air and meet folks who might not normally be in your circle of friends. Influence others to do good and learn something new one step at a time. Take it from a guy who fell over (and crawled through) half the hurdles at the high school track meet and called it quits for 12 years.