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How This Guy’s Starbucks Run Helped Him Lose 37 Pounds

Runner’s World logo Runner’s World 10/9/2018 The Editors
a man jumping in the air: Jim Cormier decided to run for 40 days for Lent. He hasn’t stopped since. © Jim Cormier Jim Cormier decided to run for 40 days for Lent. He hasn’t stopped since.

Name: Jim Cormier

Age: 60

Occupation: Semi-Retired

Hometown: Colleyville, Texas

Start Weight: 195 pounds

End Weight: 158 pounds

Time Running: 3 and a half years

The first time I decided to run was for Lent in 2015. I wasn’t what you would call obese by any stretch of the imagination, but I was in fact overweight at 195 pounds on a 5-foot-10 frame. I did absolutely zero aerobic exercising. What I did do was walk the dogs and play golf (in a cart).

Weight has long been a problem for me. I would say from age 9 or so I started to get heavier. I think the term back then was “husky.” Prior to now, I would say I spent most of my life minimally 20 to 40 pounds overweight.

The problem was I ate for comfort. My diet really wasn’t that bad, though. I ate fish, salads and lean meats, but the biggest problem I had was always consuming more calories than I was burning.

I finally realized this after getting into running. Lent was approaching, and normally I give something up that I probably could do without for 40 days. Instead, I decided I would do something I thought I hated for the entire period: running.

During week one, I tried to go a half-mile without stopping and I did that, but it was not without being considerably winded and feeling slightly nauseated. But the weeks went on and I found myself at a mile and a half. My left knee got pretty swollen, and I was limping so I had to take some time off.

During that time, I consulted a buddy of mine who runs marathons and he gave me some tips and encouragement not to stop the progress I had made but to get rested and focus on stretching. After a week or so, he said to try again. After 10 days off I went out and ran 1.75 miles without stopping and never looked back.

[Want to start running? The Big Book of Running for Beginners will take you through everything you need to know to get started, step by step.]

Fast-forward to two years later. I was still 195 pounds. I ran five to six times a week, but the weight just wouldn’t come off. It was clear that whatever extra calories I was burning I was consuming in kind and the net of it was I stayed the same weight.

That all changed after a trip to the Leadville 100 in Colorado in 2017. No, I didn’t run the 100 mile race. I did the 10K because I wanted to challenge myself. But I found myself talking to all of the athletes in town. My race was a disaster for many reasons, namely the altitude. But the trip turned out to be a blessing.

I talked to a few ultrarunners and they made me realize I needed to change things up. I couldn’t run the same route at the same pace every day and expect speed and endurance to magically appear. I knew that at age 59 at the time, I was not going to be running 5-minute miles, but I absolutely knew I could be better than I was.

The ultrarunners I met told me to do interval training and more aggressive hill work and to look at those as a means to improve my overall running performance. And lastly, I had to listen to my body better, recognize when I can push and when I need rest, to focus on stretching and foam rolling, and to ensure I can run as injury-free as possible.

I came back home with a plan to be a better runner and part of that was eliminating the two 16-pound bowling balls that I carried with me every single time I went out to run. Today, I weigh in at 158 pound, lower than what I weighed in eighth grade.

One of the biggest changes to my routine was waking up for my Starbucks run. Yes, an actual run to the coffee shop. This was a way for me to incorporate my desire for caffeine when I wake up with my new running routine. I knew if I got to where I perceived this as a positive experience, I would do it over and over again.

At first, everyone looked at me as I ran up the driveway and thought what the heck is that guy doing? Now, my coffee and water are just about ready when I walk through the front door and people think it’s cool.

And wouldn’t you know it? It worked. I went from running at best 10:30 per mile for the 2.2 or 2.6 miles (depending on the route I took) to Starbucks to now doing it in 8:07-8:30 a mile. I ran my fastest mile in June of this year at 7:15, which I never in a million years would have thought possible prior to going to Leadville. I credit the Starbucks run and me turning 60 and getting into a new age bracket with my first win at a 5K in August.

I am certain that I am like so many others on this planet who believe they hate running, or their knees won’t support the activity, but the reality is that finding running may have been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The mental toughness that you get from this sport is unlike anything I had imagined, and the fact that Garmin watch tells me my VO2 Max is that of someone at age 20 isn’t all bad either.

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