• CARAruns

Life Changing Running

CARA marathon training program participant Tim Doris has not always been a runner. Overweight most of his life, he became accustomed to finishing last in school fitness tests. Back then, he was content with video games, with little hope of being successful at any physical activity.

In 2001, Tim got a wake up call from his doctor. He went in for a physical, and weighing over 270, his doctor told him if he did not change his way of life, he was at risk for serious health problems. It was time to make some changes, but over the next three years diet fads and pills led nowhere. Now weighing in at 287 pounds, he knew the only way he could really make a change was by focusing on his eating habits.

In 2006, by changing his diet, he started to lose one to two pounds a month. He still ate the foods he liked, but he focused on portion control and searching for healthier options. He was creating a new healthier lifestyle, one good choice at a time.

Tim was proud of his progress, but still in 2009 he did not feel comfortable walking into a gym or partaking in any form of public exercise. The release of the Nintendo Wii became his answer. Tim’s need for exercise, and his interest in video games were a perfect match as the Wii offered the opportunity for fun and fitness.

Over the next couple of months Tim made these exercise themed games part of his daily routine. As he progressed, he worked up the courage to think he could handle more intensity. And he wanted exercise to be something he could do anywhere. That is where running came in for the first time. Tim was afraid he could not even run half a mile straight, but he laced up and went outside anyway. He was going to run, no matter the challenge. Tim had to stay consistent, starting with a run/walk routine, he gradually increased his distance. By the end of 2011 he was confidently covering four miles at a time.

This new found confidence led to Tim signing up for his first half marathon. He took his training one day at a time and pushed through soreness to strive for his goal. He wanted that finish line and he was not going to give up. By his race day in November of 2012, Tim was down to an incredible 165 pounds. Not only did he finish the race, he did well enough to convince himself he was capable of more.

That “more”, became the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Tim was determined to become a marathoner.

The training runs were not easy. He often cut them short or walked part of the distance, but he did not want to quit. He would say to himself, “If not now, when would I have a better chance to accomplish this?” Tim was resolute that his chance was now.

He toed the start line knowing he would get to the finish line. He hit the wall at 21 miles, but that did not stop him. His past self would have given up and stepped off the course. But this new active, confident self gave all he had to get to the finish.

The overweight man who thought he would never enjoy exercise is now a 43 year old with runs half marathons at eight-minute pace and is training for yet another marathon (his sixth Chicago!).

Tim believes anyone can start to run. He says, “Running is easy to learn, but hard to “master”. Anyone can run with prior instruction. There are always challenges to take on (PR, a new distance, race in a new place) and new people to meet. CARA provides group training that follows the plan and the power of the group motivates me to get through those tough days.”


People like Tim are why we do what we do. He trains hard, strives to improve, finds strength in the power of the group and inspires others along the way.

Geof Brown loves the energy Tim brings to CARA. Geof says, “What first stood out to me about Tim was his effort at our weekly speedwork sessions. Quietly and without show, he would do his workouts, but you could tell he was driven and focused. I just loved to see it and used it for my own motivation.”

Group leader, Ann Marie, noticed Tim during one CARA group run this summer. “On a very tough, hot day when we were running 18 miles, there was understandably a lot of talk about the tough conditions and hope that we wouldn't have this weather on marathon day as time goals would be dashed. Tim simply said any time he crosses the finish line he is happy and grateful. I heard something more in his comment and that was when I learned about his incredible story,” Ann Marie says.

Tim proves it is never too late to try something new, push yourself and take on new challenges with a supportive group behind you. If you are afraid to take the leap, think about Tim. He did it and so can you.

We are lucky to know Tim. Thank you for sharing your story.

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