What Happens When a Recreational Runner Teams Up with a Navy SEAL

by Greg Pollowitz

This is an amusing article about a columnist for Runner’s World magazine who happened to tell his Navy SEAL in-law that his goal, sometime in the distant future, was to get to the point where he could run a half-marathon. His Navy SEAL in-law basically says, “Let’s do that tomorrow, then.  And I won’t let you fail.”

I don’t think this spoils the end, but, with the SEAL’s encouragement, the author did not fail.

Here’s the opener:

I will be accused of exaggerating, but I assure you I’m not. Except for the part about underwater snakes snapping at our calves, everything that follows happened exactly as described without any embellishment.

I was holding a beer in one hand and fried chicken in the other. This was a summer family reunion. I was standing in front of my niece’s husband, who is a Navy SEAL. Navy SEALs don’t like to be written about, so let’s call him Bronco. Bronco is a muscle—a ripped, blond-haired, blue-eyed dazzler who looks as though he could incapacitate a man with a strategic finger thrust. As if that weren’t enough, he is easily one of the smartest guys in any given room.

“I heard you went for a run yesterday,” I said to Bronco. I took a bite of chicken and nodded. What I’d actually heard is that he had run mile repeats pushing a car, did a five-mile cooldown jog wearing a 100-pound pack, and finished off with an hour of sustained kickboxing. “I’ve been running a little myself,” I continued. I took a sip of the beer. His eyes narrowed and grew serious. “So, you know, I’d love to join you at the end of one of your workouts if you’d let me tag along.” He shifted to face me and lowered his head.

“What are your goals?” he said.

I made a squawk of some sort and began to stammer. If you’re suddenly asked what your goals are by someone who is not joking—whose eyes are pinned to yours, who is a Navy SEAL—you’re abruptly thrust into a lightning-round assessment of your entire life that leaves you giggling in a high, unattractive way. “My goals?” I said. I looked at my beer and chicken and thought about how I’d like to lose weight. That would sound stupid even if my hands were empty. No self-respecting guy tells a Navy SEAL he’d like to fit into smaller jeans. I struggled to say something. I could tell him I’d like to try to be mighty. I would like to be a little more epic, every now and then.

“Okay,” I said, finally, “in the fall, I was thinking—and this is only if I can get there because I have a long way to go—I was thinking in late fall, literally months from now, I might try and you know. . . complete a half-marathon.”

“Let’s do that tomorrow, then,” he said. I stared back at him as the walls around us began to slant and close in. I wondered how I had let this happen. I covered my mouth with my wrist and swallowed a beer-burp. The lesson, I guess, is that unless you’re special in some way, you probably shouldn’t poke a stick at a guy who pushes cars around for workouts. “I won’t let you fail,” he said.

The rest here.