How Running Changed Me – John Bearstail

Name: Jean Bearstail
Age: 45
Hometown: Lincoln, North Dakota
Occupation: Project Manager
Execution time : 3 years 4 months
Start weighing: 251 pounds
Final weight: 180 pounds

I stopped being active in my twenties and didn’t take life too seriously. At that time, my weight was floating around 180 pounds. At the age of 28, I lost my father to heart failure and started to spin in circles. I ate anything and everything I could.

I spent all my 30s wondering when my time would come, leading an unhealthy life and trying crash diets to lose some weight. At that time, I weighed up to 230 pounds. And before my 40th trip around the sun, I hit 245 pounds, which slowly climbed to 251 pounds in a year.

One morning in 2017, at the age of 41, I woke up with bad acid reflux, coughing and trying to get yuck out of my throat. Once I was able to breathe and swallow water, I stepped on the scale and saw that I weighed 250 pounds. The next day I had the same routine – I woke up coughing, trying to clear my throat, and this time the scale read 251 pounds.

Thinking about my father and my weight was a turning point for me. He was tough on me growing up, trying to make sure I was doing the right thing all the time. I started looking for weight loss contests to motivate me. I was sick and tired of being unhealthy and heavy. So when I started running and training, I thanked my dad for giving me the opportunity to make the right choices for my life. Seeing his high blood pressure also helped turn me on, as it was the cause of his death. Running now also helps me maintain decent blood pressure alongside what the doctor prescribed.

In October 2018 I plateaued after dieting alone and had to add exercise to lose weight. That’s when I started jogging. I wanted real results, so I started a circuit. I walked for five minutes, then I ran for one minute, then I walked for another five minutes, then I ran again for two minutes. I did this until I ran for 30 minutes without walking.

When I started running, I only did it because it was something I was good at when I was younger. Later in life, when I decided to run again, it was because I knew it was the best choice for my health. But it was painful at first. I thought of all the reasons to stop, turn around and give up. But the pain, the tears and the struggle kept me going. That’s when I found the passion to keep running.

Before my peak weight, I ate everything I liked and had seconds every time at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, for my breakfast, I eat oatmeal and two dry toasts. I learned to love him very much. For lunch I take a protein shake and for dinner I eat rice or chicken noodles. Sweet potatoes also grew on me. I don’t eat that much steak anymore.

I currently use the MapMyRun app to track my runs and have used it for a few years.

I follow a fairly planned weekly training schedule: Mondays I do leg day and no more than 3 miles at an easy pace for the day, or no running. On Tuesdays I do 9-10 mile intervals. On Wednesdays I lift and lift for an hour plus an easy run of about 6-7 miles. On Thursday I do an easy 6-7 mile run. Friday is the upper body lift and no more than 3 miles of running, or no running. Saturdays are my long runs – I’ll go anywhere between 1:25 and 1:45 at my half marathon pace. And on Sundays I do recovery runs at an easy 9 mile pace.

My goal for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, which I ran this year, was 1:40, but I finished in 1:52:51, which I’m still very proud of. One day I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I also want to run the New York Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. I am currently training for the Windermere Marathon in Spokane, Washington next May.

To date I have lost 71 lbs, now at 180 lbs for a year now. It’s been about four years and two months since I started this journey, and I haven’t finished yet.

Running has definitely changed my life. I was starting to feel lighter. My heart rate was lower and I felt like I no longer needed my blood pressure medication (even though I still take it). But above all, it’s knowing that I’m extending my life for my wife and children with every race.

I stay motivated by thinking of my late father Thomas Clyde Bearstail, whom I named one of my sons, as well as my late uncle Bruce Hall, who won a few marathons while in the Marines. Both left this world too soon. Now I run in their memory. I hope I can motivate and encourage others to start running, regardless of age. Goals are meant to be achieved!

These three tips have made my running journey a success:

1. Don’t rush the process

Don’t be in a rush to rack up your mileage too quickly, because it will hurt. Follow the process, whatever it is, and trust it, because you’ll feel really good in the end.

2. Don’t Just Prepare Physically, Prepare Mentally

Running gives you time to think, and what you think about can do one of two things to you: it can hurt you or it can help you. Running is a stress buster – it’s best to stay focused on the task at hand, and soon you’ll forget the stress.

3. Have fun and enjoy your progress

Once you’ve reached a goal, you’ll know it was a fun trip. And every time you look in the mirror, you see someone different. This is progress!

John’s essential equipment

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%: I’ve bought a lot of running shoes, and so far the best shoes I’ve run a marathon in are these Nike sneakers.

Swift Kick Aspire Zero Socks: I feel like I don’t have any socks!

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and Garmin running dynamics module: Both of these work perfectly for tracking my workouts on a treadmill.

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