It’s time for another Rockstar Runner report! This month I’m so excited to bring you an interview with Eric Hunley, aka Hampton Runner. I’ve gotten to know Eric over the past couple months and thought his story was so cool that I wanted to share it with all of you. Not only did he go from 283 pounds to runner & marathoner, he’s had a number of podium finishes along the way (seriously, check out this guy’s race record)! So without further ado, here is Eric’s story:
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am originally from Tucson, AZ and was eventually stationed at Fort Story Virginia with the US Army. This is where I met my wife. We moved a couple times and then settled back in Hampton, VA in 2004.
In this journey, I started working with computers, networking and ultimately programming. This expanded my income for a while along with my waistline. I have taught computers and networking, written two books and co-wrote another a few years back. I now work on financial systems in my current position.
How/why did you start running?
I first tried running in Junior High as an attempt to play football. With my allergy induced asthma, it was beyond painful. I later had to run in the army. All of my running was pretty much induced or under duress. After I got out of the army and swore that I would never run again (my wife reminds me of this often), I started to gain weight over the years.
I finally decided to start losing the weight as of January 3rd, 2012 and was 283 pounds on that day. I got onto MyFitnessPal and started tracking my food intake. This started to have an effect immediately, but I wanted more.
So I got a FitBit a couple weeks later. I found out that it was hard to get to 10000 steps during the day and needed to get a bump.
I started out walking on a treadmill while watching the Biggest Loser. I would set it to 3.5 MPH until my shin splints had me doubled over. I would knock the speed down to 3.4 and they would calm down. I would then repeat the procedure the next day and keep increasing the speed all the way to nearly 5 MPH.
I started to really lose weight. I was down over 30 pounds within the first 3 months. I started to wear a 20-pound weight vest to keep burning as much as I could.
By summer, the treadmill motor burned up. I ordered an elliptical. While we were waiting for it to be delivered, I still needed my steps. So I started walking outside. I would walk 3-5 miles every day.
When Jon Lord of Deep Purple died July 16th 2012, I decided to try some old Deep Purple tracks on Spotify. I never really was into the band, but just thought I would listen out of respect. One of the songs that blew my mind was Child in Time. It was so intense that it hyped me up.
I wound up having to run a couple blocks before I could calm down. I then listened more and was hyped. Ran a bit more and was back to walking.
I started to incorporate running into my walks. Over time, I got up to a mile without stopping. I thought that it would be cool to get to 2 miles like the army. I kept padding each run and wound up at around 2.7 miles. I determined that I was within a half mile of a 5K distance and decided to try it. I did and started to run that distance or a little more all the time.
That fall and the next spring I visited my nephew who was a cross-country athlete in high school and college. He said that I was actually doing pretty well for my age and I should think about doing a race. Another co-worker was doing a local 5K and encouraged me to sign up. I did, ran it, and ran another one the next weekend. I have now run 32 races from 5Ks to a marathon.
What do you love about running – what keeps you coming back time after time?
It is a challenge and it puts me in touch with both myself and the environment. I drive by things all the time, but I don’t notice them like when I’m running by. I feel more in touch with the community.
How do you get yourself out the door on days when you’re just not ‘feeling it’?
Mostly, I depend on momentum. I just get out and start trudging. I have found that I never feel worse after a run.
How has running changed your life?
Running has made me a happier and better rounded individual.
What words of wisdom do you have for brand new runners?
Don’t try to move too quickly. It’s a journey, not a sprint. And don’t try to change too many things at one time. That is a recipe for injury.
What are your favorite inspirational blogs to follow?
Have you ever been injured running, and how did you recover?
Wow. I’m injured right now. I am trying to recover. My current plan of action is no running for 1 month to finally heal. I have replaced all runs with rides and am aqua jogging three days a week.
What running gear do you think you can’t live without?
My Garmin and my iPhone (or another mp3 player).
What are your top 3 songs to listen to when you run?
Infected Mushroom: Becoming Insane
Infected Mushroom: Dracul
Tracy Lords: Control
That’s four, but I can’t help myself.
Treadmill or outdoors?
Outdoors. I use the elliptical if inside.
Anything else we need to know?
Uh. I hope not.
How can we find/follow you on social media?
Hampton Runner on Facebook
@HamptonRunner on Twitter
Thanks Eric for sharing your inspiring story!