The Running Journey of James Adams
Our shoes hit puddle after puddle as we did five 1 mile repeats at a 7:30 pace around the Lakebottom track. About halfway through light rain drops began to fall. They seemed annoying at first, but quickly turned into a cooling miracle. The first two miles I was able to keep up with avid runner James Adams and his running partner Steve Warren, but the next two I lagged by about 10 seconds. Their fully trained bodies were holding up a lot better than my semi-trained one. Did I mention that Steve is 67 years old? And James, age 41, lost 50 pounds last year. He did it all by joining running groups and making a few lifestyle adjustments. He runs 8x per week and is not on a super strict diet. He will still indulge and have a good time but sticks with his running regimen and stays aware of an overall healthy lifestyle.
The moment James decided to make a change was January 2018. He had been doing 3 days per week at the gym but was still gaining weight. He had built core strength, but felt he needed to strengthen his lungs and burn fat.
“I knew deep down inside I was a runner. I was just carrying extra insulation.”
Day 1, he began running with his dog Uli, the Doberman with boundless energy, and by May was completing two miles without walking. He also did a potato fast for a week. For one week you eat nothing but potatoes. Sweet potatoes with cinnamon and white potatoes with hot sauce. Nothing else. No oil, no salt.
“It's a thing. I didn't come up with it. One week, 2 rounds in January and June.”
He counted calories until he started running with his running group in June 2018, then just ate to either recover or fuel a run and lost the desire to eat unhealthily. 90% of what James eats comes from instant pot or Vitamix. He adds that the potato fast helped to reset his taste buds.
“Broccoli tasted amazing and cooked apples tasted like you were cheating.”
James noticed quickly that he enjoys running in groups rather than alone. He once trained for a marathon alone and he admits it wasn’t as much fun as running alongside others. In June 2018 he emailed Carolee Luther, president of Columbus Roadrunners, and joined their Tuesday and Thursday evening runs. He hasn’t looked back since then and also runs six mornings per week. When he did the Soldier’s Marathon last November (pictured above) he had lost 50 pounds in 10 months.
James says that the running groups, Carolee and Reggie Luther, and Steve Warren have been his support system along the way. He adds that the Good Form Running Clinic with John Teeples was a huge game changer as well.
“I learned a lot just by talking to the regulars at the runs, encouraged by slower folks, inspired and pushed by faster folks, distracted by conversations, meeting new people and didn’t notice the miles as much.”
As far as struggles go, James has dealt and recovered from plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, various aches and pains, and only one point in his life where he was worried that he would have to quit running and it terrified him. Espiritu made him custom orthotics and his physical therapist and trainer Bill Jones fixed everything else.
James’ advice to those looking to make a change like he did but not sure how to start…
“Focus on the long term. Don’t be afraid to walk. Don’t beat yourself up for setbacks and persistence will pay off. It will eventually come together, as weight loss will allow you to run farther, and you will (actually) want to follow the nutritional plan to improve your running, so it all naturally becomes less of a burden.”
During the last mile repeat around the track I looked back and forth between the big dark sky and James and Steve's feet as they softly hit the track. I worked to match their steps and found myself pushing a little harder than before inspired by their dedication and focus. We finished, congratulated each other, gave some high-fives, and began some recovery laps. One of those moments thinking, "I can't believe I just did that/I feel amazing right now." We closed off the evening talking about James’ next big races - the Snickers and Publix marathons in March. When I asked him if he’s looking to set a PR at these, he laughed and said, “No. At this point I’m just out there to keep going, have fun, and cross the finish line.”