Running gives new life to Marine

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After dropping 100 pounds, Rich Vidinha has his sights set on the Boston Marathon

Rich Vidinha didn’t think much about how easy running was, until the day he realized everything else was hard.
During Vidinha’s 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including time spent as a drill instructor on Parris Island, physical fitness had been a natural part of his life.
“I wouldn’t call me a runner,” says Vidinha, 35. “But when we ran, I always enjoyed it.”


Somewhere along the line, though, Vidinha injured his back, and the pain eventually became unbearable. Forced to medically retire from the Marines in 2007 after trying everything from therapy to surgery to steroid injections, Vidinha scored a desk job on base and transitioned to life as a civilian employee.
But the worse the pain got, the harder it was to move. And the more sedentary his lifestyle got, the more weight he gained. Over the next five years, the father of three packed on close to 100 pounds, his 6-foot frame ballooning from 170 pounds to 250.
Then, in the spring of 2012, a steroid injection gave him more relief than usual. It was the same week he’d been faced with buying size 40 pants. Vidinha knew he needed a change. He started with some light weights and in-home workouts, but eventually he felt the pull to jog around the block. So he did.
“I about passed out,” he says. But he kept at it over the next days and weeks, running twice around the block. Then a half-mile. Then a mile.
“Over time, 3 miles turned into 4, then 4 turned to 5, then 5 miles became easy,” Vidinha says. “I was starting to run effortlessly. It was something I could do that wouldn’t cause a lot of pain in my back.”
What it did instead was awaken his long-slumbering drive toward excellence. By the time Vidinha did his first 5K, he was hooked. He set his sights on his first half marathon, the Hilton Head Half in February 2013, followed by the Marine Corps Marathon in October of that year, finishing in 3:31. By then, he had dropped to 180 pounds, which he attributes to how running changed his mindset about a lot of things.
“Running gave me a goal, something to push forward to. When you’re getting serious about it, it makes a huge difference,” says Vidinha, whose 5K pace is 5:40 per mile. “Dropping almost 100 pounds, studying my stride and posture while running, all of that made me a more efficient runner.”
Now his sights are set on the ultimate marathon goal: Boston. To qualify, he needs to run a 3:10 in the Myrtle Beach Marathon on Feb. 14. In full training mode, Vidinha says he typically does a morning workout before work, then a lunch break run, followed by a nightly strength workout. Weekend events and outings with his sons are planned around long runs. He admits he’s a bit “obsessed,” but says “running has given me a life back again.”
“Every day, the pain is there. If I stand still, that’s when it hurts the most. Washing dishes, waiting in line somewhere, it just hurts. But moving doesn’t hurt. Running doesn’t affect it at all.”