How running changed my life


Jeff Martin

Alex Martin and his dad Jeff running a marathon in Santa Cruz, Calif in May 2017.

My breathing is arduous as I pick up speed, making it tougher to talk. I always remind myself that the pain that comes with running is temporary. The rhythmic sound of my feet hitting the pavement reminds me that I’m still moving forward with strength and endurance.

The feeling of joy that running produces can only be understood by going out and experiencing it for yourself. 

When I run, my confidence builds and I feel like I can accomplish anything. While it may be hard to complete a run in the moment, the suffering during the process of running is all worth it both physically and mentally. 

In January of 2016 I started running because of my dad and never thought it would evolve to the level it’s at now. Before running became a part of my lifestyle, I used to weigh just under 200 pounds, while standing at 6 feet tall, but now weigh 170 pounds.

When my dad first suggested to me that I run a 10 kilometer race, the equivalent to 6.2 miles, I initially was not on board. As I started training, I absolutely fell in love with it. 

My dad has a lot of great qualities, but one of my favorites is how he has the ability to bring people together in the sports world. He and I ran my first marathon together in Santa Cruz. There’s nobody else who I’d rather run a marathon with. Coming into that race, he had already run two marathons of his own, so he knew what it took to get through an event of that difficulty.

Since that 10 kilometer race, I have competed in another three as well as five half marathons and 10 full marathons. All of my running activities at this point come out to 809 activities of running and just over 4,800 miles.

I use an app called Strava to record my activities. Strava is an app which allows you to record exercise activities such as runs, walks, cycling or even swimming. It works anywhere in the world as long as you have a decent cellular signal.

When March 2020 rolled around, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the first shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I remember him specifically advising everyone to stay at home and not go out unless it’s necessary.

When the first shutdown order was put in place, I was initially upset. Running had become such an important part of my lifestyle that I couldn’t fathom my daily life without it. Initially I feared going out and possibly catching COVID-19 or risked spreading it to others if I happened to be asymptomatic. I didn’t want to be responsible for passing it to someone.

But after thinking about it more, I figured that if I run in areas that have less people and social distance myself to the best of my ability, then I figured I could continue to do something I’m very passionate about.

Though 2020 was a tough year, I still managed to run over 700 miles that year. With the support of my friends and family, I knew anything was possible at that point.

Even though we are not out of the woods with the COVID pandemic, I still continue my passion for running and take the virus seriously. I’m now fully vaccinated and just recently received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and I still wear a mask when I go out to run. As of 2021 so far I have run over 350 miles.

My hope is to someday qualify and run the Boston Marathon when I’m older. If I continue to take COVID-19 seriously and work hard, I believe it’s possible.

Alex Martin can be reached at [email protected] or @alexmartinjour on Twitter.