Sunday, July 12, 2015

Addicted to Running

By John Schupp

Growing up, I ran when I had to for other sports and that’s it. With the exception of one year on junior high track, which was a grueling experience to say the least. I didn’t see running as something I ever would want to do in my free time or for FUN. It took work. I don’t have natural talent. I wasn’t fast. I quickly decided that it wasn’t for me.

In high school, I struggled to balance my life between schoolwork, girls, wrestling, and partying. I started drinking at 16. At the time it wasn’t a problem, only having “fun” on the weekends and staying pretty straight-laced in school, until my senior year. I didn’t notice at the time, but looking back, that is when I started slipping. I was finding other things to get loaded on. Popping pills, drinking, and weed were my “fun” and if you had some, I wanted it.

Things went downhill pretty quickly after high school. I was graduating to harder drugs and finding no time for college. I ruined my A+ scholarship within a year and didn’t really think school was my thing anymore. Despite partying, I still graduated high school with almost a 3.9 gpa and six college credits. I think I was 22nd in my class or something. Anyway, by the time I was 19, I went into my first rehab. I had a pill and heroin addiction, but really I did anything you were willing to share with or sell me. I knew then I had a problem, but it didn’t stop me yet. It took three overdoses and two more rehabs before I decided I had enough. All before turning 21. Not to mention the reality that sank in when the judge told me I was facing prison time. By the grace of God, I found enough pain to quit, and I have not found a reason to take so much as a sip of alcohol, one pain pill, one joint or anything since October 20, 2009. And man has my life changed since. It’s not all roses, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
First ever 5k!
 Now, fast forward to about three years ago. A good friend of mine called me up that knows me all too well and said there was this 5k he was running and it started in an hour. I was like, "SO?". He said, “Well there’s some pretty girl here.” So, I went. True story. I was so tired at the end of that 3.1 miles that I could not tell you a single face that was there. I definitely wasn’t worried about any girls. I had to focus on not passing out. But I did it. That sparked something in me that felt good. I accomplished something that I had never done before. I’m an ex-smoker. I wanted to run another one. I wanted to train for it and finish stronger. And I did just that. I found running when I needed to. I realized how much clearer I could think after a long run (long is relevant: at the time, 2-5 miles was LONG). My mood improved. It wasn’t easy, and I think that’s what attracted me to it so much this time, which is exactly what drove me away back in junior high.
Training for the next big draw- a Tough Mudder!
I decided I wanted to train for something big, so Greg Wells and I picked a Tough Mudder to do together. We both worked our asses off. In October of 2013, we did the whole thing without walking. Towards the end, I hurt bad. My hip was cramping up. I’d never gone that far before, let alone on dirt, rock, and mud. But I had come so far and I just couldn’t give up. Greg talked me through the last part of that race, and we finished strong. Since I have gotten clean, I’ve learned that I can’t just run away from my issues and giving up only makes things worse. I think running helps me face my issues head-on. It is SOOOO much easier to sit in the a/c and watch tv, but I don’t. Despite, that little voice in my head that says just stop, go inside, you can run another day, I pushed forward. Now, it has become a desire; I want to run all the time. I wonder how the hell I will ever make to where some of you ultra runners are, but if I keep trying, I bet I’ll get there.
Who doesn't do back flips at a Tough Mudder!?

Tough Mudder Finisher
The beauty of running, for me, is it can be as challenging as I want it to be. I find like anything in life, you get out of it what you put in. Often, it’s my mind that I have to convince to take the first steps. Every time I set a goal, big or little, I reach it (maybe not on the first attempt). I store that away for when times are hard and I need a little extra to keep me going. I run because I want to be a good influence on my children. I run because it is a great way to relieve stress. I run because I find peace. I run because it feels good, sometimes. Those “sometimes” make the rougher times worth it. 
John & Greg carrying a log at Tough Mudder- some seriously hardcore stuff.
We’re a special breed. I get asked at work a lot, “Why do you RUN?” “What are you running from?” Truth is, I don’t have a specific answer that sums up the essence of why I run. I do it because I can. I do it because I’m a recovering addict and running helps mold me into a person I want to be. It takes discipline and courage to conquer fears of the unknown for me. Every time I make it a mile further than I thought I could or a little faster than I ever have, it is a nice big middle finger to the life I used to live. That’s often what I think about when my body is tired and my mind wants to give up. I’ve come an awful long way to give up now. It sounds almost unreal, but there was a point in my life where I didn’t see myself living past the age of 25. Running keeps me grounded. It gives me strength in life knowing that if I keep moving forward, I eventually make it to my goal. I really can’t believe I hated it so much when I was younger.

So what’s next on my plate for me? I’ve been training for my first marathon. I figure, why not. I’ve never run a half up until I started training for the Cowbell in October. I think I’m up for the challenge. After all, I do like a good challenge! 

I want to say how blown away I am from all the support and encouragement I’ve received and see from all of DRC’s members since I joined the group a few months ago. I have only felt that way from a group of complete strangers, probably, only a couple times in my life. Ya’ll seriously ROCK!

Want to get to know John better? Check out his Runfie Questions!
What brought you do DRC? I think Greg told me about it this spring and I have to say, It’s lived up to its hype! 
Do you have a dream race? I’d like to qualify for Boston. If I was to be really ambitious, my dream would be to complete an Ironman. Mad props to anyone who can even walk after a 2.4 mile swim. I’d probably die.
What is the strangest thing you’ve seen while running? I haven’t seen a whole lot that stands out in my head at the moment. The dead skunk in the middle of the bridge on the Katy was kinda amusing… I didn’t know I could run without breathing!