Screen Sharing: Ben Does Life

One man’s journey inspires another.

Gabrielle Ross

January 31, 2014 | Sweat | February 2014

About two and a half years ago, I was procrastinating on facebook at work. On my newsfeed appeared a video. I can’t remember why I clicked on it; curiosity, maybe. I’m not the type to get roped in by “inspirational true stories”. That’s beside the point, though, because I did click on it.

I remember when the final notes of Coldplay’s song rang out and the video ended, I wiped tears from my cheeks. Touched by this incredible display of determination, I went on a search to learn more.

The video linked Ben Davis’ tumblr. I started reading. We were in June 2011.

I was confused. “Do Life”? “Do Life Tour”? I want to read about Ben’s journey, not the finish line!

I clicked on “About”, and that’s when things got interesting.

I remember, when I read that for the first time, the thing that stayed with me was that he made a promise to his grandmother. This journey to get smaller, it wasn’t just a physical thing. It was a very personal thing, too. So I decided to go back in time, and read the whole thing. THE WHOLE. THING.

At first I wasn’t sure if I could continue reading it. Nutritional regimens and lists of accomplishments don’t make for an interesting read. At first, Ben used his blog to keep a record of his training, not for our entertainment. But I continued reading, and as the months went on and his exercises got more intense, so too did his writing. Interspersed with pictures of food, post-exercise selfies and detailing of the days activities were hilarious anecdotes:

As I kept reading, I realized I couldn’t wait to read about how Ben’s next 5K would go. His writing had a natural flow to it, like he was building a novel he wasn’t even aware he was writing. The people in his life became recurring characters; he posted about the birth of his niece, his workouts with his friend Heather, visits to his Meemaw’s (grandmother’s) house. I started to feel for these characters, these PEOPLE, and I couldn’t stop reading. For days, I scrolled through the tumblr posts. Then, I got to October 22nd, 2009, and I read his post about his very first marathon:

Something clicked. I wanted that feeling, the feeling of accomplishment we feel when we push our bodies’ to their limits.

 Truth is, I was feeling like an impostor at work. I was the project coordinator at a youth agency, and my project had to do with health. I had to organize activities about physical health and nutrition, without being involved in any sport, whatsoever. I think the last time I had been in an organized sport was volleyball in 8th grade. I knew I wasn’t in shape. And for the first time, I felt like I wanted to be.

I set out to figure out how to start training for a 5K run, and found Hal Higdon’s guide.

At this point, we were at the end of July 2011. Through Ben’s blog, I learned that it was important to set concrete goals, or else your training would fall by the wayside. So I signed up for an official 5k, even before I started training, that would take place in October 2011.

And I started running.

I asked my boyfriend to compile a running playlist for me (he called it GAB FORCE), and I would follow the guide, day-to-day. I bought new running shoes. My favorite time to run was at night, when all is quiet and the stars start peeking out in the darkening sky.

It was a great summer.

My energy levels were up, when I interacted with the kids I worked with I felt less like a fraud, and I kept reading Ben’s blog to stay inspired. I read about him training for his Iron Man, meeting his girlfriend, getting ready for the Holidays…

 And, in October, I ran my first 5K.

It was exhilarating, and I had Ben to thank for it.

I continued reading his blog, following his exploits. He went on Good Morning America, published a book, got married. After awhile, though, his posts became less frequent. He started gaining weight again. Weeks passed without updates.

My own fitness journey mirrored his, almost to a T. After my 5K, I felt accomplished. Colder weather came along, so I stopped running outdoors. New Year’s rolled around, and I committed myself to indoor training. It lasted a month, maybe. When I moved to Ottawa, I’d run a few times a month, then stop for even longer periods. Then Winter came. When my boyfriend and I started school in September of this year, we decided to train for a 5K together, using Zombies Run. We lasted three weeks before “life” got in the way.

And that’s what I love about Ben Davis. He’s REAL. Yes, he achieved stunning successes, but he’s human, too, just like I am. We can be dedicated for a few weeks, then fall off the tracks. And that’s ok. We can always get back on them.

Really, what it boils down to, is that I should really trust my own advice. I should sign up for an upcoming 5K, and keep reading Ben Does Life.

Gabby is an Acadian who’s missing the sea and splitting her time completing her Master of Social Work at UOttawa and watching TV. She also writes for Fantastic Fangirls & Heroine TV and tweets at @gloryisben.

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