Run­ning Changed My Life

In the first col­lec­tion of sto­ries in an on­go­ing se­ries about how run­ning has changed the lives of every­day Cana­di­ans, these three run­ners share their in­spir­ing fit­ness sto­ries

Canadian Running - - GREAT STRIDES -

Rick Ged­des AGE 48 HOME­TOWN Port Al­berni, B.C.

My wakeup call came when my older brother had a heart at­tack,” says paramedic/deputy fire chief Rick Ged­des. “He’s also di­a­betic and these are both health is­sues that my fa­ther has dealt with, so my doc­tor sug­gested that I have some blood work done. Sure enough, I showed signs of pre-di­a­betes.”

Five years, 72 lb., one pair of shoes and one shift in per­spec­tive later and Ged­des is now a run­ner.

“I came home to find that my wife had pur­chased me these fancy New Bal­ance run­ners,” Ged­des says with a chuckle. “I asked her why she bought them, be­cause I don’t run. The shoes sat on the shelf in my base­ment for some time.” One day, Ged­des de­cided to try them on. “I thought, ‘Man, these are comfy, I’m go­ing to give this a whirl.’” Ged­des went for a lit­tle run. “I thought I was go­ing to die,” he now laughs. “But also felt that I was onto some­thing. I used to think peo­ple that ran were kind of weird,” he adds, “and now I’m that weird guy that runs to work.”

Ged­des’ wife sup­ported his life­style change with one of her own – health­ier cook­ing. The cou­ple’s Rhode­sian ridge­back has been sup­port­ive too, join­ing Rick on his runs.

Aside from the health ben­e­fits, Rick is con­fi­dent that run­ning has im­proved his abil­ity to per­form at work. “Some­times peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate the phys­i­cal na­ture of be­ing a paramedic. A lot of my job in­volves heavy lift­ing, some­thing that feels much eas­ier hav­ing lost weight,” Ged­des ex­plains.

In terms of ad­vice to run­ners just be­gin­ning their weight-loss jour­ney, Rick ’s ad­vice is tried and true: “Be per­sis­tent. You won’t see re­sults right away, but you have to stick with it.”

Jodie Hutchin­son HOME­TOWN Toronto AGE 34

Jodie Hutchin­son is a self-pro­claimed “back of the pack ad­vo­cate.” Four-and-a-half years ago, Hutchin­son de­cided she no longer wanted to par­tic­i­pate in races solely as a cheer­leader for her friends, but as an ath­lete her­self.

“At that point, I was well over 300 lb., but I told my­self, ‘You can do this,’” Hutchin­son re­calls. “I’ve met a lot of peo­ple who are plus­sized who are afraid to run be­cause they don’t think that they look like a run­ner. I’ve talked to groups of women who have con­vinced them­selves that they have to run in the dark be­cause they’re ashamed of their bod­ies. That’s why I’ve made my own jour­ney so pub­lic on so­cial me­dia – I want peo­ple to be proud of them­selves, to be con­fi­dent in their bod­ies, even if they’re com­ing in dead last.”

Hav­ing lost 110 lb., Hutchin­son is pas­sion­ate about fos­ter­ing a run­ning com­mu­nity that is ac­cept­ing of all sizes. “I was at the start line for the Sco­tia­bank Wa­ter­front 5k and I’m chatty, so I started talk­ing to another girl in the cor­ral.” She told Hutchin­son that it was her dream to run it in un­der an hour. “I said, ‘OK, I’m go­ing to pace you.’ I didn’t even learn her name un­til we’d crossed the fin­ish line,” Hutchin­son says. “I’ve had peo­ple cross the fin­ish line, take off their bibs and come back to pace me in. I al­ways try to re­turn the favour for some­one else when­ever I can.”

Hutchin­son’s favourite say­ing when it comes to run­ning is: “There is no fin­ish line, so love the jour­ney.”

Jesse Wheeler HOME­TOWN Peter­bor­ough, Ont. AGE 34

As a fam­ily doc­tor, Jesse Wheeler ad­mits to be­ing a “hyp­ocrite in the worst kind of way.” Last June, Wheeler re­al­ized that, de­spite spend­ing his days coun­selling pa­tients on the im­por­tance of ex­er­cise and a healthy diet, he wasn’t re­ally fol­low­ing his own ad­vice.

“The worst thing was that I couldn’t keep up with my two lit­tle boys, who were five and two at the time,” Wheeler says. “That was when some­thing needed to change.”

Like many, Wheeler’s mid­dle school ex­pe­ri­ence with run­ning hadn’t left him with any burn­ing de­sire to con­tinue with the sport as an adult. “I re­mem­ber com­ing in 58th of 59 and nearly vom­it­ing at the fin­ish line in a manda­tory Grade 7 cross-coun­try com­pe­ti­tion more than two decades ago. So, I’m not re­ally sure how it hap­pened, or even what made me do it, but I de­cided last June that I’d go try a run,” Wheeler re­calls.

Those first days were not easy. “My chest burned, my legs felt like con­crete, my back hurt, and I could jog for maybe 30 sec­onds be­fore be­ing to­tally gassed. I hated it while I was out there. But what got me hooked – what I truly en­joyed about it – was the feel­ing of ac­com­plish­ment when I was done,” Wheeler says. He ad­mits to hav­ing had a con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion of there be­ing only one type of run­ner – the in­tense, wiz­ened marathoner – prior to re­turn­ing to the sport in adult­hood. Now, 50 lb. later, Wheeler is in train­ing for his first half-marathon.

A full-time job com­bined with par­ent­ing means that most of Wheeler’s train­ing oc­curs at night. “My six year old asks me ev­ery day now,‘How far did you run last night?’ I’ve been mo­ti­vated to make changes in my life to be a bet­ter ex­am­ple for my kids, so I hope that means I’m on the right track,” Wheeler laughs.

Maybe his boys will start join­ing him on his runs some­day. That some­day might be a while away still though. “Right now, it’s tricky to get them to run in a straight line.”— CF

LEFT Ged­des at the Edge to Edge Half-Marathon, Ucluelet, B.C.

RIGHT Rick Ged­des rac­ing the Tri-Conic Chal­lenge

ABOVE Hutchin­son post-run­ning

ABOVE Dr. Jesse Wheeler hit­ting his stride at the But­ter­fly run in Peter­bor­ough Ont.

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