Pessimism Be Damned

There’s this outsider perception that all runners started young; however, most runners know this to be fairly false.  My running story is similar to most.  I didn’t run in high school, nor college.  I was one of those “I’m not going to run unless there’s a ball involved” athletes; however, my involvement in organized “team sports” lead me to where I am now—a two time Ironman Triathlon finisher, ultramarathoner, and multiple sub-three hour marathons (most recently at 2014 Boston Marathon).

My run with organized sports took a turn for the worst in college, leading to the eventual endurance transformation.  A graduate student enrolled in the Doctoral Physical Therapy Program at Daemen College, I decided to participate in club rugby.  Needless to say, two significant head injuries resulted in a fairly short career.  With an urge to fill an athletic and competitive itch, all awhile offsetting the terrible graduate student diet, I decided to try my hand (err legs?) in running.  It wasn’t pretty but I was determined.  I continued to run through college, fully submerging myself into the community. 

Luckily, my addictive personality has always been channeled into sports and work.  I set my goals and work for them.  It’s what stumbled me across the finish line at Ironman, as well as cutting over an hour off my marathon time in just a few short years (4:06 to 2:54).  I have risen through the ranks at my company (Buffalo Rehab Group Physical Therapy) faster than any other, while starting my own internet-based company shortly after graduating from college (  To this day I continue to embrace my inner nerd.  While most 20-somethings are out mingling, you can usually find my laid up on my couch digging through running-related literature and research studies.    RunSmart Online has provided an avenue to help thousands of runners every year improve while preventing injury (you’ll hear more about this in the future).

Like so many marathoners, I have this “Oh yeah? Watch me” attitude when pessimist enter the picture.  I’ve always been this way—plain stubborn.  In fact, my first race was the Buffalo Marathon.  Yes, before even participating in a 5K I signed up and trained for a full marathon.   We encounter pessimism every day.  Pessimists love to offer us advice, attempting to conform us to the meat of the bell curve while engraining self-doubt.  Well, I’m an outlier.  Most marathoners are outliers.  You can’t be vanilla and run a marathon. It’s probably the reason why some of our friends will describe us as being a little “crazy.”

My registration for the Buffalo Marathon was met with pessimism.   On top of working 60+ hours a week, the training waters become a little murky as my wife and I are welcoming our first child in January.  Sure, I heard the pessimists preach “kiss your running goodbye” and “your life is going to change.”  Great.  Bring it.  There’s almost this general consensus amongst non-exercisers that you need to fold up shop as a parent.  The pessimistic words seem almost aimed to foster guilt, conjuring neglectful thoughts for even considering training for an event. Well, I don’t have any experience training as a parent, but I do know what it means to sacrifice sleep and manage time for a bigger goal and purpose.  As always, I welcome the challenge that both fatherhood and the Buffalo Marathon have to offer.  I will remain optimistic.

I plan to write about my experience as I shuffle being a new parent, sleep deprived, working (a lot), and training to PR at Buffalo in 2015.  For some I hope to motivate you through those dark, cold long runs---know you’re not alone.  If nothing else, you’ll at least get to see a baby picture from time to time and learn some tricks of the trade.

Steve Gonser PT DPT
Physical Therapist

First time Dad, Husband, Physical Therapist at Buffalo Rehab Group, Boston Qualifier, Ironman, and founder of Join me as I balance training, work, and family on my journey to the start line (and hopefully a PR).