On this episode of The Omega Sports Show, we are joined by marathon runner, Mike Cooke. Mike shares his truly inspirational story of weight loss achieved through resilience and mental strength. A sixteen-year journey, Mike walks us through the toughest years of his life, starting from his senior year revelation at about 300 lbs and ending with the goal of running a 50-mile marathon this year. In addition, Mike shares his advice on how he soldiered through to get a place where he is at now.
Meet Mike Cooke
Before we embark on his weight loss journey, it is important to know the genesis of it. Growing up, Mike was always one of the bigger kids in his class, with high school being his heaviest years, reaching a max of 300lbs. Senior year is where it all came to a head. Mike recalls taking his senior picture and feeling unhappy with his image, even reaching feelings of hatred towards it, though concurrently recognizing that he could not be mad about his weight since he is the product of his own design. Still, Mike found his self-worth through running, but it was defiantly not easy.
How Mike Cooke Got Started
Through this, Mike knew there had to be a change. If you asked him today for advice, his number one tip would be to take tiny incremental steps and celebrate those small victories. But, that’s not how he got started. Mike made the mistake of starting too fast and going too hard, a mistake he paid the price for in time. Exactly how long did it take for him to build a healthy habit? Just a few 16 years with every year presenting itself with its own hurdle. But as Mike puts it, “it’s okay if you start and then fail, as long as you fail better each time.”
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To get started, Mike made a deal with himself that if he’s not going to interact with other people, then at the very least, he needed to work within himself. If he didn’t like spending time with himself, the chances of other people wanting the same would be slim. The second call to action, rather than focusing on what you cannot do, pivot that energy into what you can do. Whether it’s running for 2 minutes or two miles, every small victory is worth celebrating. Between this and becoming sober from alcohol, Mike was able to achieve that mental strength that is essential to be a runner.
For Mike, learning that running alone won’t help with weight loss was shocking. Mental strength, consistency, and surprisingly self-esteem are what make for the smoothest weight loss journey. Mental strength to keep from giving up, consistency to build habits, and self-esteem to allow yourself to fail without abandoning your goals.
Mike Cooke’s Marathon Numbers
Before quarantine, Mike’s largest race had been a 10k which was already a massive achievement for him. Not to mention that this also marked his one year of sobriety. During the beginning of the pandemic, Mike admits to the apparent and frightening possibility of regressing back into old ways. The first few months were not easy; luckily, he was able to find solace in virtual marathon running. In October of 2020, Mike ran his very first ultramarathon, a 50k trail race. Since then, Mike has done an additional three 50k trail races, with one of them being outside. Not only that, but he has also run a total of 4 marathons. Achievements of this stature have only encouraged him to graduate to the next level, and for him, that is running a 50 mile. Following that, Mike wants to attempt to run a 100-mile run, but as he’s mentioned before, only small incremental steps at a time.
The Importance of Community for Mike Cooke
Mike Cooke will be the first to admit that he could not have done this on his own. With the help of a community, runners meet in Charolette (runCLTrun) Mike was able to find a group of people who shared similar interests and values. Without them, training and running marathons would have been a struggle to achieve. But if running is not something that interests you, Mike and we here at Omega Sports encourage you to take on anything that keeps you active. SweatNet and ClassPass are only two examples of online classes you can join and be a part of a community. From yoga, strength training, pilates, and so much more, these monthly subscriptions give you access to everything you need to get started and begin forming healthy habits. You can also follow Mike on Instagram if you find yourself needed some inspiration.