Who am I and why do I run? My name is Donald Morrison and I am a runner from Pasadena, CA. I realized at an early age I had above average running ability. I recognized that when I would race friends at school and on the baseball diamond during practice. I was further convinced I had some talent when I started running the mile in 4th grade. I was running it under seven minutes, however, I believe the distance was short as they extended the laps when I was in 5th grade, thus slowing down my time.
I ran cross country in middle school and made the varsity team as a 6th grader. I continued with cross country through high school (1992-1996), making the varsity team as a freshman. I was an all-league performer for my final three years. I ran the distance events along with the 400 during my three years competing in track and field (I played one year of junior varsity baseball in 10th grade). I was league champion in the 800 during my senior year yet with a personal record 2:00 (I was never unable to go under 2, unfortunately). I was happy with my performances at the time but was never going to win CIF or advance to any state competition. I was good locally but never the best. I was fine with that. I did the best I could.
I decided to attend UCLA after high school. Being a big boy athletic school, I simply wasn’t fast enough to even walk-on the cross country or track teams. I knew that going in and I wasn’t attending UCLA to try to run at the next level anyway. I did the next big thing which was to cover the track and cross country teams as a sports writer for the Daily Bruin which is the school’s student-run newspaper. I ran in two intramural track meets and participated in advanced running classes through the school’s recreation center.
I stopped running entirely after graduation, mostly due to not making it a priority. I felt the itch to compete though so I started to run in 2005 after work. I did it for a few weeks but then developed shin splints due to trying to run too fast and too much. I decided to rest and just kept resting until the fall of 2007. That’s when I would get serious.
I bought a cheap Timex watch and would head to the Rose Bowl regularly to run. It went well for a few weeks again. I developed shin splints again and tried to fight through them but couldn’t. I decided to rest.
Fast-forward to February, 2008. Co-workers decided to take part in the Susan G. Komen 5k run/walk at the Rose Bowl. Since I lived so close, I decided to join them. Of course, the competitive side in me would not allow me to casually walk. I had to run it. Despite no training whatsoever, I ran the entire thing. It was hard.
It was that same year in the summer/early fall I felt I needed to change my habits when it came to diet and exercise. I’m 6-2 and weighed 208 pounds. That’s not in any way obese or even overweight. But I was developing a bit of a gut and I just wanted to exercise and see if I could tone my body. I decided I would do push-ups instead of another gym membership. I had gone to the gym before and worked out but I would always stop. Now, I had a new plan. I would start slow–very slow. I started doing 30 push (3 sets of 10) three times a week. I felt this was achievable and would not wear me out to the point that it would discourage me. I would slowly increase the amount of push-ups each week. A funny thing started happening–my body was getting toned. I started to lose weight as I cut down my calorie intake.
The Susan Komen 5k run/walk was coming in February, 2009. I wanted to see how well I could perform if I actually trained. In early January, I started to run regularly but not everyday. I started three times a week just 2 to 3 miles. Then, I got an itch to see how fast I could do a 5k again if I actually trained. I told myself I would only run local 5ks. Because I was going about it gradually, I kept with it. I ran the Komen run and a few others. I did well and slowly increased my training. From that point, I worked up to 10ks than half-marathons then, in 2012, marathons.
Since 2012, I’ve completed eight marathons and one “shorter” ultra-marathon. I’ve finished three of the six World Majors (Chicago, Boston and New York) all under three hours. I’ve also run the Los Angeles Marathon under three hours twice. I will run the Berlin Marathon in September and plan to run the other two major marathons (London and Tokyo) within the next two to three years.
Now, I run five to six days a week. I continue with the push-ups and other strengthening exercises. I now weigh anywhere from 170 to 175 pounds. I was able to do all this while working full-time. I attribute sticking with my running by gradually building then making it a habit. Scheduling races has also given me the motivation to keep training. If you have a goal, you have something to work toward.
I am a firm believer in a gradual buildup. Don’t overwhelm yourself early because it could cause injury and will be overwhelming to your body. If you’re always exhausted and wiped out, you’ll view running negatively and will stop. If I can achieve my running goals, you can too.