Faces of Run The Edge: Chris Jacobs, Tough Times to Tough Mudders

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Many of us have had a moment where we’ve taken a good hard look at ourselves and realized that something needs to change. For Chris Jacobs, this moment came when he stepped on the scale in November 2016 and saw the number 300 staring back at him. He had been trying to manage his weight through diet alone, but found that that was not enough. He vowed at that point, just a few days before Thanksgiving (ouch), to start exercising regularly and take control of his body.

Chris began going to the gym with a few of his colleagues that winter. Together, they held each other accountable and provided support when it was needed. In 2017 Chris was spurred on to form new healthy habits by not only his friends, but his work as well. His company initiated a Wellness Challenge with the aim of helping employees stick to their New Year’s Resolutions all year. Chris had three goals to achieve: lose 80lbs, do a chin up, and run a 5k in under 30 minutes. At the time, these seemed completely unattainable for him. He could barely jog half a mile before stopping, and that took him almost seven minutes! But he stayed consistent with his workouts and never allowed his determination to waver.

Chris walked his path to health with baby steps, a lot of drive, and a few surprises. While members of his gym group flagged and stopped coming to workouts, he persevered. That June, Chris’ coworker Jamie helped him hone his diet and workouts to bring him closer to his three goals. Jamie had participated in several Tough Mudder obstacle races, and spoke of his experience with such fervor that Chris jumped at the chance to sign up for one. Unfortunately for him, his enthusiasm got the better of him, and he committed to the Tough Mudder without fully knowing what it was. Still determined to complete the course with Jamie, Chris wholeheartedly dedicated himself to this new and unexpected challenge. With a strict diet and exercise regimen, supportive friends, and a new (even loftier) goal ahead of him, Chris was well on his way to a fitter life. He started to see the tangible benefits of his new lifestyle when he ran a sub 30:00 5k in August, just eight months after he pledged himself to the goal. This first success ignited a fire within him, and he went on to far surpass the goals he had believed almost impossible. In the months that followed he not only completed his first Tough Mudder race, but also ran a 5k in under 25:00 the very next day. By September of 2017, he had lost 65 lbs and gained a love of setting seemingly insurmountable goals for himself.

Driven by his success, he trained hard for more Tough Mudders and running events in 2018, staying ever focused and consistent with his workouts. The year saw many firsts for Chris, and he achieved more goals he had never even considered setting for himself. He ran a 10k on the Fourth of July with Mike, a friend and coworker from his original gym crew, and discovered that the race they had just completed was part of a series. They also ran the 5k and decided to try a third race. Chris signed up for the half marathon with glee, excited to tackle such a leap in distance. However, when he received the registration confirmation email, the word “half” was missing from the event name. He had accidentally registered for the Quad Cities Marathon!

Never one to back down from a challenge, Chris threw himself once more into training for an event he had inadvertently signed up for. He employed Hal Higdon’s 16 week program, which just barely fit his time frame. He supplemented his marathon preparation with three more Tough Mudders, and ran more than he ever thought he would.

On the day of the race Chris made it 19 miles before he was forced to walk! Unfortunately around mile 23, he was assailed by some excruciating leg cramps that further slowed him, but made his calves look marvelous in photos (as seen here). Chris finished the marathon, surprising even himself, and has since signed up for several more (on purpose)! The Quad City Marathon has become one of his favorite races since his first encounter with it, and he continues to be active in his local running events. He is currently in the process of training for a half marathon this April! 

Throughout this process of taking control of his well-being, Chris learned that the best way to push himself was to continue the way he started: by committing to goals that seem impossible at the time, and then absolutely smashing them. Looking for something to keep him on track and challenge him further, Chris and Mike signed up for Run The Year 2019 as a team. They have so far completed almost 600 miles, agreeing to count only intentional running miles, hikes, and one elliptical workout per week. Chris is hoping to finish the challenge solo as well, and we have no doubt that he will! His pursuit of health has taken him not only to new heights of physical ability, but also to exciting places around the world. He has run in Croatia, China, France, and Canada in addition to the events he does around the US. He has an insatiable passion for Tough Mudders, and one of the most effervescent personalities I have ever encountered.

Chris advises anyone starting where he did to stay dedicated to their goals and not be afraid of making small changes to start out with. “The more dedicated you are, the more you go out, the better you will be,” he says, “Progress happens slowly, but that doesn’t mean you’re not improving every day.” Though we all know this, it is much easier said than done. Chris is living proof that it is possible to start from scratch and work your way up if you stay consistent and keep your eyes looking ahead. Despite his demanding work schedule, he has gone to the gym five days a week every week for the last two and a half years. Since he has to be at work by 5:00 in the morning, this means waking up at 3 am! We are beyond proud of his commitment, transformation, and success. Chris truly Runs The Edge!

If you’d like to follow Chris’ journey you can find him on Instagram as @tophjacobs 🙌

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