Derek Mitchell shot into the limelight as the man set on running a 5K per month this year. When he started in January this year, Mitchell weighed well over 550 pounds, but midway into his quest, he’s lost over 90 pounds and is on his way to reaching the 300-pound goal. While that’s still a long way away, Mitchell also announced that he is running a marathon later this year in Hawaii, and could become the heaviest man to finish a marathon if he does get there.
Support from his family, a massive following on Facebook, and a crowd-funding drive have all contributed to Mitchell’s mission. In an interview with FirstRun, he opens up about what made him start, how he has progressed so far and what the future holds for him, with regards to running.
Derek, tell us a bit about yourself and your life growing up. What kind of a kid were you? What’s your family like?
I was a skinny, pretty hyperactive kid, I didn’t start gaining weight until I was around 13 or 14. My family is amazing, and my sister is a runner as well. She ran the Chicago Marathon in 2010, and has run several different races, including a 5K or two with me.
When did you decide to take up running as a means to be fit?
January this year. I just started walking at least a mile every day.
Tell us about your experience of running the first 5K.
It was a very fun time. The running community is extremely supportive.
What’s been the hardest part about running, so far?
Continuing to run, even when I don’t feel like it.
Who are your running inspirations?
My family has just been amazing throughout this entire time, mainly my mother and sister.
What does a typical week look like if you are training?
Just walking. I try to average at least 2.5 to 3 miles every day now.
What kind of diet are you on now?
I don’t have a specific diet plan. Just concentrate on eating more healthy options in smaller portion sizes, and avoiding fast food whenever possible.
How have people reacted to your running quest?
For the most part, very positively.
Have you been able to find the time to workout as much as you’d want, and balance it with your work?
I am a Desktop/Network Support Technician for a small managed services provider. I am still able to work out pretty regularly.
Have you received any kind of support or sponsorship?
There is a company in Kansas City called KC Running Company who has helped me out with shoes and entry fees into some races.
Tell us a bit about the crowdfunding initiative that I came across on your Facebook page
I started that to raise money for race entry fees and medical bills, and the response has been so amazing. I am so thankful for the people who have chosen to help me with this. It (16,000 followers) can be a little overwhelming at times, but it keeps me motivated. My family and several running groups on Facebook are my support system.
How has your life changed since you started running?
Well, aside from the 87 pounds lost, I’ve become more active.
Would you want to continue running once you finish you mission of running a 5K every month?
Absolutely, maybe do a 10K every month next year. Not sure yet.
Lastly, what has running taught you about life?
That you can never know where the road will take you, but you just need to keep moving down it. Plus, if I can walk a 5K, anyone can.