Local Runner Shares Inspiring Story As He Prepares For His First Half Marathon

His three best tips for beginners.

TAMPA, Fla. — If you’re a runner, it’s easy right now to find an organized running event just about every weekend across the Tampa Bay area. 

One of the biggest is the Gasparilla Distance Classic this weekend. The races happen all weekend with several different lengths. And most of the races are open to everyone — walkers and runners alike.  

It’s hard not to be inspired while running or walking along Bayshore Boulevard here in Tampa. It’s just beautiful here. 

This is where Jim Maister does most of his running while training for his first half marathon. A half marathon is a big deal because Jim only started running a couple of years ago. 

“Running for me was always a punishment, like in high school if you mess up in football, the coach makes you take laps. It was always a punishment so I was never really a runner,” he said.

But three years ago that changed. “I was 325 pounds and I was miserable.”

Jim started eating healthy and slowly began to exercise, then he started to run. 

“When I started running it was basically a couch to 5K program where I started with running for 30 seconds, walking for 30 seconds and then building that up, those intervals up, and eventually it led to being able to run a complete mile.”

Two years later, he’s ready for his first half marathon. “I’m nervous about it. I’m excited about it as well, so there’s both sides of the coin.”

He says if he can do it, anyone can. He has three bits of advice for beginners.

“First, just be good to yourself. It’s common for us to torture ourselves to get to a goal.”

Second, get into a routine and stick with it. “When you don’t feel like it, it’s probably the time that you need it the most.”

Finally, find some friends that will encourage you. Jim joined a running club.

“Getting people that have like interests and like minds and like abilities and doing it with them has been a lifesaver.”

Today, he’s down 135 pounds and running distances he never thought he could. “I consider myself in the best health of my life.”

The Gasparilla Distance Classic is this weekend in Tampa. Jim will be running Sunday in the half marathon. 

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