For extremely personal reasons, Kevin McEachern got into running a few years ago. In short, it’s helped him through a stressful period in his life. But something else happened – he caught the running fever and last year, finished near the top of his age class in the Running Room Super Series. He’s got big plans for later this year as well, including a run at Marathon by the Sea. Check them out in this edition of the Running Whys.
by Kevin McEachern
Why do I run?
I’ve thought about how to answer this question for weeks now (as I procrastinated on starting to write this!). I had convinced myself the answer was nuanced and complex, and deserved a great deal of deep thought and analysis. It really isn’t that way at all!
I started running because I was going through a separation. As a (usually, except right now!) very private person, it’s hard to admit – but, going through these types of life-changing events tends to make you re-examine your priorities…to say nothing of looking for much-needed distractions!
I decided some physical activity would do me good and help relieve stress. So in September 2013, I decided to run the Hampton 5-miler with my friends Mark and April (who had recently gotten into the sport).
Check out our Running Whys features on other participants in this year’s Emera Marathon by the Sea:
Sherri Colwell-McCavour, Jesse Davidson, Jason Kaulbach, Jacqueline Boucher, Jen Payne, Mark Clinton, Patty MacMillan, Haley Adams-Green, Dean Mercer, Caitlin Stevens-Kelly, Carla Harris, Dave Horgan, and Krista Sutton.
Looking back, it’s funny that I don’t recall doing any training whatsoever for the race. I considered myself to be in good shape – at least as good as or better than my friend Mark (more or less my peer athletically since high school).
I had run 5K a couple of times (years ago), and was convinced 5 miles wouldn’t be much harder. Imagine my surprise as, after a decent start, Mark left me in the dust around mile 3.5, never to look back.
By mile 4, April had passed me as well. Determined to recover, I staged a furious rally and edged April out at the finish line in 42:26 – only to collapse in a catatonic heap for several minutes while everyone else milled about, casually sipping on water and sports drink (when I finally stood up, I embarrassingly recall being covered in grass clippings from head to toe!).
It was then I realized that “running shape” is a different animal entirely. I resolved to get in actual running shape for 2014, with the goal of participating in the Running Room Super Series and placing top 10 in my age group. After a winter and spring of preparation, I joined the race circuit and ultimately completed 10 Super Series races (ranging from 5K to Half Marathon) in 2014, to place 4th in the Super Series for Men 30-39 (including a much more comfortable 35:38 “do-over” in the Hampton 5-miler).
Although I had achieved my pre-season goal, I had now “caught the running bug”, and was not entirely satisfied. I was well aware that all the other runners in the top 10 were all faster than me – I had achieved my result mostly based on a combination of volume and strategic race choices. I resolved to train harder than ever in the winter (including outdoor running with my newly purchased stability spikes) to increase my speed. However, I made the fatal mistake of going for an overly ambitious 5-mile run up a killer hill, during one of the first snowstorms of the winter.
The next day, I felt a pain in my knee I hadn’t experienced before. Within a week, I could hardly walk. I had gone from “runner” to “injured runner” in no time at all, courtesy of one foolishly ill-timed and overzealous decision.
I would spend the next 4 months recovering from IT Band Syndrome, which mercifully resolved just in time for the 2015 season. I now plan to run the Half Marathon a MBTS and if all goes well (i.e. no injury flareups), the full marathon at Legs for Literacy in October (bucket list item – would be my first!).
When it comes down to it, I’ve found that running is all about overcoming obstacles.
Relationships break down, financial struggles happen, family members fall ill, injuries derail us. A lot of this is beyond our control. But we can always resolve to run/jog/walk a little bit farther (or a little bit faster) than we did yesterday. That’s what makes running special, and why I do it. It’s simple to learn. It’s easy to set goals. It’s great stress relief.
And it’s so inclusive. The running community consists of the most positive group of people I’ve ever been around – everyone aligned in the common goal of putting one foot in front of the other to move forward…quite literally! And who doesn’t need a little more positivity and forward motion in their life each and every day?