With willpower from running slack to half marathon - The story of Martin Just
He is 45 years old, has been working shifts for many years, carried more weight around with him than he would have liked and decided: Something has to change. A year ago, Martin Just started running to do something good for himself and his body. In our interview, you can find out how he managed to go from being a running slacker to running a half marathon within a year, despite setbacks.
VR: How did you get into running and when did you start?
Martin Just: I started running almost exactly one year ago, on Sep. 6th 2020. I was 44 years old, weighed 110 kilos (around 242 lbs), more than ever before, and that flipped the switch for me. I thought to myself, "It's now or never." When you carry around a lot of weight, you often struggle in life, and my father was right when he used to say that performance drops off rapidly as you get older. I wanted to get fit and lose weight and running is the fastest way to do that.
VR: Did you have a specific strategy then, or did you just go for it?
Martin Just: I have a training room at home and for the first 4 months I only ran on the treadmill to protect my joints because of my weight. Until the beginning of January, I didn't go outside for a single run and really started with very short distances and extended them yard by yard until I ventured out. Unfortunately, the first setback came soon.
VR: What was that setback?
Martin Just: In February I ran on black ice. Due to the slipping, I overstrained my shin and was out for 3 weeks. After 3-4 weeks I started again with 500 meters under pain and week by week it went better.
VR: How did you deal mentally with the setback?
Martin Just: Especially in the early days, it's really hard when you're slowed down and then have to start all over again. 500 meters, then 600-800 meters or a kilometer - if I hadn't had the urge to start again, it probably would have taken longer. In July, I tore my lower back and was bedridden for two weeks, so it only helps to start again and to keep your goal in mind, otherwise everything is gone. Also my family helped me tremendously to keep the motivation up - my wife and daughters often accompany me by bike, and we like to take our dog with us, too.
VR: You fought your way back 2 times, how did it come to the HM?
Martin Just: It was really extremely up and down, but that's probably the case for many people, from what you read in the running groups. The question is: How much do you want to do it? When you're young it's easier, when you're middle-aged it gets harder, but you have to keep at it. In August, I ran 2 half marathons for myself. The first one I just wanted to see how far I could get and then suddenly it was the half marathon distance. After that, a switch was flipped. Since then, I have run 4 half marathons. That was like overcoming my inner weaknesses and proving to myself: You can do it!
VR: How did you come across VirtualRunners?
Martin Just: I was looking online for running gear and then came across VR's site. I saw that you guys were offering runs online and I thought to myself, "Well, you can run 5K." So I signed up for the January run. This was also my first run outside. I trained outside for two weeks and then the run already came. In the meantime, I have participated in many runs, including the Los Angeles Run. I want to run good times, so training is important to me and the runs I run should be a highlight.
VR: What are your next goals?
Martin Just: To keep going! I have lost about 15 kg, but I want to lose more. I am still too heavy for a runner, about 85-90 kg would be good. It goes slowly, but steadily. At the beginning it was really a torture, but now I'm over the hill and slowly it's really fun. I have resolved to run half marathons for 2 years to build up and strengthen muscles and ligaments and run a marathon in 3 years at the earliest, because some people overload too quickly. I'm sure I would struggle and make it, but that's not the goal. I want to get to know my body better, when it needs what.
VR: What are you most proud of?
Martin Just: Well, my whole year of running. I would never have thought that I would stick with it for 1 year and I was surprised myself. First of all, that I proved to myself that I can stick with it and also that I could show my family and friends that I stick with it despite setbacks. Running is a special challenge that I have taken on. I am proud of that. You also get fitter. I have to say that since I started running, I need less sleep and have more energy during the day.
VR: What would you recommend to others?
Martin Just: Training pays off if you keep going. Keeping at it is the be-all and end-all, the faster it gets easier. In the meantime, you also enjoy nature when you're outside, not like in the beginning where you had to struggle up every mountain. Running is something long-term and you have to be aware of that. You have to manage to flip the switch and change something in the long run. You can also motivate each other. My son-in-law has also started and is now heading towards triathlon. So it's all doable.
VR: Thank you Martin, for your time and your inspiring story! We wish you much success in your trainings and continue to have a lot of willpower and strength!
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