I am always inspired by others who have had the courage and will power to change their life. Below is the story of Daryle Lamoureux who transformed his body and lifestyle to become a marathoner and is now a Certified Running Coach. I met Daryle this summer during an RRCA Coaching Course in Salem, Massachusetts and was inspired by his story and I know you will be too.
Now that my 2013 racing season is over, I can take some time to reflect on the past 18 months. To say that this time has been life-changing would be an understatement.
The plot of the story will seem familiar to many, but the great part of life is that we live our own version of a “Choose Your Own Adventure Book.” This means that we have the chance to make changes that will greatly alter the outcome. So here’s how my life and running story go.
Have you ever found yourself in a rut? Have you ever tried to get out of it? It’s not always very easy. In the spring of 2012, at the age of 41, I finally admitted that I was in a rut that was only getting deeper.
Growing up I was relatively active, but for the most part was not involved in organized sports. And I never was what anyone would describe as a runner. However, I did enjoy running whenever I did. When I was in college, I decided that I would run a 5K. I continued to sign up for the occasional 5K/10k and even ran a few with my wife before we settled down and started our family. Even though we ran these races, we never ran regularly or trained for them.
Once we had kids and settled into the daily routine of being adults, running, exercise and fitness were all pushed to the side. From 2000 (when our first daughter was born) until the spring of 2012, I was relatively inactive and started to put on more and more weight.
So now back to that fateful date in the spring of 2012, I found myself weighing almost 280 pounds and realizing that this was not the person that I wanted to be. The Wednesday before Memorial Day my wife and I walked into Seacoast Kettlebells determined that we were going to change our lives. We started eating better and working out regularly, and the weight started to shed away.
As I started to make this transformation, I knew that I wanted to start running again, to race and to be a runner. I laced up my running shoes during the first week of July, and much to my dismay I wasn’t able to run even a quarter of a mile. But that didn’t stop me.
I kept going out and working away until I could run longer and longer. By the beginning of August, I was going for a 3-4 mile run (which always involved some amount of walking). Then one day at lunchtime I went to Runner’s Alley to buy a new pair of running shoes, and there was a sign advertising their half marathon training group.
I read the description and talked about it with someone in the store. The only requirement was being about to run 3-4 miles a few times a week. I was on the edge. I was concerned that I might be the least prepared runner in the group, but I signed up.
The group started running the following week, and I just settled in. I ended up being a middle of the pack runner and worked my way up closer to the front by the end of the group. Running regularly became addictive, and I immediately started to think about new goals (of course, I would have to run a marathon).
At the same time, I came across a one page interview with an ultra marathoner named Scott Jurek in Time Magazine. I read it with complete fascination and admiration. He talked about running 135 miles through Death Valley in the summer (the Badwater Ultra marathon) and other feats, all while being a vegan.
Even though I had always been a very prolific meat eater, I knew that my diet still needed to change more. I read Jurek’s book Eat and Run and then came across Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra (another vegan ultra athlete). After reading their stories, I was convinced that this was right for me too and would make me a better runner.
So we stopped eating meat and animal products and became plant-powered. My weight continued to drop, and I definitely felt better with this change.
At the beginning of November, I ran my first half marathon with a 9:37 pace. My goal when I started the group (other than finishing) was to run no slower than a 10:00 minute pace. So this was a success all around. Right after finishing the group, I signed up for my first marathon: Delaware Marathon in May. This was followed by signing up for many other races too (another half marathon, a 20 miler and a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks).
While planning my race schedule, I had started to think about a 50K for the fall. But then I succumbed to the suggestion that that was too long to wait. I signed up for the Pineland Farms 50K in New Gloucester, Maine on Memorial Day weekend … two weeks after my first marathon! People were telling me that I was crazy, but I like a challenge.
Four weeks before the Delaware Marathon, I had a tendonitis flare up in my ankle. I wasn’t able to run until the day of the marathon, but this didn’t stop me. What it did do, however, was completely change my expected outcome. I was training for a sub-4:00 marathon, but instead ended up with a sub-5:00 marathon. The most important thing was that I finished, and it was an incredible experience.
Two weeks later I was feeling better and found myself about to run the trails for the Pineland Trails 50K. It was very exciting. The new twist was that it had been very rainy leading up to race day, so the trails were covered with ankle-deep mud for most of the race. Once again, not a great pace, but I finished.
Having finished these two races confirmed that I am a runner, I love training and I will continue to run as long as I can. Once again, I signed up for a fall marathon (Clarence DeMar in Keene, NH) and another 50K (Big Bad Ultra 50K in Pownal, Maine).
In the meantime, I switched to running 5Ks and 10Ks to see what I could do. With each race, I was getting faster and faster and every race becoming a PR. I ran my final 5K of the season with a 20:41 time and a 6:40 pace … faster than any 5K that I ran in my 20s.
I then had a chance to redeem myself at the Clarence DeMar Marathon. I went into the race trained and injury free. I crossed the finish line with a 3:41 time. I ran this marathon at a faster pace than I ran the half marathon less than a year prior.
The 50K, however, was a much bigger challenge, and I knew that when I registered. The course had a fair amount of technical single track trails together with 4,500 feet of elevation gain. But I ran through it and finished strong (just not a PR).
My 2013 racing season ended with the Seacoast Half Marathon (the same race that I was training for the previous year). This time the race was very different. My legs were still not fully recovered from the marathon and 50K in the previous weeks, but I felt good overall. I went out and gave what I could. At the end of the day, I crossed the finished line at 1:44:50. This mean that I had shaved 1:37 off my pace and more than 20 minutes off my overall time!
More than anything else, this previous 18 months has made me part of the running community. People ask me for advice: How did I go from where I was to where I am now? I found myself drawn to trying to help people achieve similar things in their lives. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to become a running coach.
I started coaching training groups for Runner’s Alley (an intermediate 10K group and a beginner’s 5K group), and I became a certified running coach. I have both RRCA and USATF running coach certifications, and now I am working with small groups and individuals to help people achieve their running goals.
Daryle Lamoureux is an RRCA and USATF certified running coach and serves on the Board of Directors of the Coastal Athletic Association. You can get in touch with Daryle through his coaching business Zosha Training (www.zoshatraining.com).