Monday, October 1, 2012
Mark Rucker on Getting Fit: To get going,
be a part of a great ‘community of athletes’
When I first started my health and fitness journey I really wasn’t sure how I was going to turn my desire to be healthy into a reality. I had watched my friend, Anita Mills, lose more than 200 pounds through diet and exercise but I knew that I wanted to do things a little bit differently than she did. I felt pretty comfortable about the dietary changes and knew that I could do research to help make informed decisions along the way. But the exercise part was going to be hard for me. I knew that I could motivate myself to a certain point but I also knew that I would need help to stay on course and stay motivated.
Over the past few weeks I’ve written about the dietary changes I made, the fitness changes I made, and the apps and websites I used to assist in making all of the changes. But this week I wanted to discuss the importance of being part of a community of athletes and how much it has meant to me to be involved with some incredible groups here in Lexington over the course of the past 19 months.
As you know, walking was the first choice for me when it came to physical exercise. Because of my size I knew that running was out of the question and I was too uncomfortable on a bicycle. Working in Georgetown provided me with a great area to walk on my lunch breaks. I would walk through downtown and around the Georgetown College campus. On one Spring afternoon as I was walking around campus I noticed banners everywhere for the Bluegrass Cycling Club and the Horsey Hundred. I had no idea what either of those things was but I was curious so when I got back to my office I was on Google to check them out. I found the Bluegrass Cycling Club website and signed up as a member. Hey, the first year is free so I figured I had nothing to lose.
That was in April. If you remember from a couple of weeks ago though my first solo bike riding experience around that same time was not a good one. I waited a couple of months, lost some more weight by walking and running, and in June finally made it out to Masterson Station on a Monday night to ride with the BCC. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
The club has so many great people involved with it. People who really take the time to make you feel welcome even if you’re riding experience is minimal like mine was. I started riding with the Novice riders twice a week at Masterson Station in Lexington on Monday evenings and in Midway on Wednesday evenings. The club has ride leaders who stick with you on the rides and offer you invaluable guidance and assistance. As I continued to ride with the club I was able to go farther and faster. I now ride with the B pace riders (around 17 mph) and ride 25-30 miles on most rides. I’ve also completed two rides of over 100 miles since joining the club, a feat I know would have been impossible if I was riding on my own. If you already enjoy riding, or are thinking about starting, and you’re not a member of the BCC I invite you to check out the website and join us for a ride.
Around the same time that I started riding with the BCC, I started looking for a group of runners to run with. I figured that if I could have a great time with others while riding maybe a group would help me with my running. I searched online and found a group in Lexington called the Bluegrass Runners. I joined the club without knowing anyone in the group and shortly thereafter was contacted by one of the members and welcomed to the club. I explained that I was a beginner and I learned that although they welcomed beginners most of their members were faster runners. I, on the other hand, was very slow. But the amazing thing was that this person took the time to connect me to Ernie Peel. Ernie organizes the running group known as John’s Striders, named for John’s Run/Walk Shop.
Ernie invited me to join him and a group on a Sunday morning for a 6-mile run. It was actually in my neighborhood so I met up with them. I’ve never looked back since. Thanks to Ernie I have met some amazing people. People who have helped keep me motivated. People who have pushed me to be a better runner. I would never have been able to complete my half and full marathons without these people. And now I have several different groups of amazing people to run with. Several of us organized our own subgroup of the Striders called the Polo Club Pacers. We run around the Polo Club/Deer Haven/Walnut Grove area. I’ve also become an honorary member of the LexRunLadies, a running group started by one of the Striders/Pacers, Krissie Bentley. And through these connections, I’ve also started running with the West Sixth Brewery Running Club on Tuesdays in downtown Lexington.
There are some amazing running groups here in Lexington. The best part is that regardless of where you are as a runner you can find a group that’s right for you. Here’s a list of groups and websites:
Polo Club Pacers
Todds Road Stumblers
Finally, after I had a solid base of running and cycling and I began transitioning into triathlon training I looked for a group that could provide me with the same type of encouragement and support that I found from the BCC and the Striders/Pacers. I found the Bluegrass Tri Club. Like the other clubs that I joined I found the BTC’ers to be a great group of people who were willing to offer guidance, motivation and support as I entered into the unfamiliar world of triathlon training. If you’re thinking about giving the world of triathlon a try (did you see what I did there?), and you live in or around Lexington, you need to check us out here.
I can honestly tell you that there is no way that I could have gone from a 365-pound-plus couch potato to an Ironman competitor in 18 months without the support and motivation that I received from these groups. If you are already active, but work out a lot on your own, I would encourage you to check out these groups. Working out with others is so motivating and inspiring. It definitely keeps me going. And if you’re just thinking about starting an exercise routine, like I was 18 months ago, please check these groups out. As a beginner you will learn so much from these experienced athletes and the motivation that you will receive will keep you on track to reach your goals.
So this week I encourage you to spend some time online checking these groups out. Take the time to reach out and plan on joining a group this week for a workout. See how it makes you feel to be around other likeminded people. If you need help finding the right group please feel free to reach out to me for help. You can find me on Twitter as @MarkTheBeastR. Now get out there and get some miles.
Mark D. Rucker is an attorney from Lexington who spent the majority of his adult life struggling with weight issues. As a result of his unhealthy lifestyle and weight, he suffered from high blood pressure, sleep apnea and was borderline diabetic. In February of 2011, at the age of 42, Rucker weighed over 365 pounds. It was then that he decided it was time to change his life. He now hopes to use his experience to help inspire and encourage others to begin their own journey to health and fitness. By focusing on his “small steps” philosophy, Rucker believes that anyone, at any age and in any physical condition, can change his or her life. Recently, he create a Facebook page called Get Moving Lexington to encourage the people of Lexington to get active.