Bench to 5K: I Replaced Football with Running—and Learned to Love It

The journey of a thousand miles

Initially, I was happy to run a couple of miles. I'd send screenshots of my run app to friends and family when I'd top three. I ran a few 5Ks and then got super brave and tried a 10K. I lived to tell about that, so I did another... and another. Eventually, I lost my mind and signed up for the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. 

Before I even really realized it, what I had considered conditioning for another sport had become my sport.

But, here's the thing: Hitting benchmarks doesn't lessen the challenge. Some days, running is going to suck—particularly amid the heat of a Texas summer. On other days, you'll kill it and feel like you're on top of the world. The former builds character and discipline, while the latter is what keeps me coming back for more.

Fringe benefits

I'm an early morning runner, and I know what you're thinking: Waking up is not awesome. But, if you can soldier through the first five minutes of unwelcome consciousness and make it to that first sip of coffee, you're on your way to a three-hour head start on your peers.

Running will make you smarter, too. I'm not kidding. All this time, you thought podcasts were made for road trips, but podcasts are actually intended to keep you sane during 10-mile runs in the dark. Plug into some Malcolm Gladwell or Radiolab and you'll come away feeling like Bradley Cooper's character in Limitless.

Last but not least, running—like football—necessitates refueling. And, seriously, there is nothing better than refueling to the tune of pizza and pasta and (gasp) fried chicken. Stuffing your face after you've earned the right to stuff your face is one of life's greatest pleasures. So, even if you're unmoved by my dramatic tale of a failed footballer-turned-marathoner, surely the prospect of guilt-free eating warms your heart.

Just a little heartburn joke, there. You get it.

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About the Author

Kolby Paxton

Kolby Paxton is the running editor of ACTIVE.com and—you guessed it—an avid runner. Arguably the least impressive football player to play stand on the sideline at the University of Oklahoma, Paxton eventually graduated from a directional school you’ve never heard of in a town you’ve never heard of before the Associated Press named him Oklahoma’s Best New Journalist—while working at a paper you’ve never heard of. After earning a master’s degree he’ll never use from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Paxton and his wife relocated to Dallas, Texas, where he would become the self-proclaimed voice of the common runner. In his free time, Paxton enjoys hanging with his beagle, cheering for the Rangers, and yelling at the Cowboys. Follow Kolby on Twitter or Instagram.
Kolby Paxton is the running editor of ACTIVE.com and—you guessed it—an avid runner. Arguably the least impressive football player to play stand on the sideline at the University of Oklahoma, Paxton eventually graduated from a directional school you’ve never heard of in a town you’ve never heard of before the Associated Press named him Oklahoma’s Best New Journalist—while working at a paper you’ve never heard of. After earning a master’s degree he’ll never use from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Paxton and his wife relocated to Dallas, Texas, where he would become the self-proclaimed voice of the common runner. In his free time, Paxton enjoys hanging with his beagle, cheering for the Rangers, and yelling at the Cowboys. Follow Kolby on Twitter or Instagram.

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