Daniel, Faith

Guest Post: Where It All Began

Hey guys! I am SO EXCITED because I have a special post to share with y’all today. Daniel wrote a post about his running story. I hope you enjoy it! P.S. The color coding (pink for me, navy for Daniel) and pictures are courtesy of yours truly. You’re welcome.

Without further ado …

Sam and I have talked about me doing a guest post blog takeover for a while now. I was unsure what to write about initially, and also let me apologize up front as I am not a good writer and this is a longer post.

I decided to share my story of how I started running and where running has led me to now. Let me start by saying, I have never been a good athlete. I am the epitome of your average guy. Average at pretty much every sport, subject, or anything else known to man. Growing up my school never had a track or cross country program so I never ran. Both of my parents ran 5ks and 10ks but neither my sisters nor I ever ran with them.

Sam here. Just wanted to interject and say that he doesn’t give himself enough credit! He is above-average at everything that I can think of. He also works very hard and is one of the most caring, compassionate men that I know. Just wanted to throw my 2 cents in 🙂

My second year in college I began feeling convicted, you see for as long as I can remember my biggest fear in life was to lose my legs. I thought that was the worst thing that could possibly happen to me and at that time, I would honestly have rather died than lose my legs. I know this sounds crazy, I don’t claim to make sense all the time.

I remember studying Colossians 3 and being convicted regarding how I was using, or NOT using, my legs to glorify God. I thought to myself, if my biggest fear is losing my legs, then what am I doing with them to glorify God right now? I realized I was wasting a gift (yes having legs and being able to walk/jog/run is a gift that can be used for His glory).

I began running 20 minutes a day on the treadmill. (Side note: I wore soccer shorts and tall soccer socks (one maroon and one white – because I thought this was cool)).

Sam again. Sorry, I’m going to stop interupting, but y’all … I died when I read this. I had never heard the story of the mismatched (on purpose) socks, but I can totally picture it in my head and the thought process behind it and it is HILARIOUS! LOL!

This progressed over a couple of months to 2 miles a day. One day, a friend of mine told me he was going to do a marathon and said I should do it too. I thought as long as I ran slow enough I could run forever (this is a myth).

I began training using Hal Higdon’s beginner marathon program and ultimately had some knee issues after a 15 mile run and I ended up doing the half marathon instead. I ran the First Light Half Marathon in January 2007. My goal was 2 hours and I ended up doing 2:01.  I was pretty happy with that and was ready to run another one.

My dad was still running some at this time and we decided to do a half together. We both trained (me at school and him at home) for the New Orleans Half marathon a little over a month later in February of the same year. I remember him asking me one day why I never ran faster and I was like, “I’ve never tried. I don’t want to crash out there and be empty at the end.” He convinced me to try a faster pace one day on a training run while I was at home and we ended up doing 10 miles at an ~8:30 pace. I did my second half in New Orleans in 1:47.

This ended up being my dad’s last race before having to have a knee replacement. He was a power-lifter in college and seminary and the heavy weights took a toll on his knees, NOT the running. I continued running around 3-4 miles 5 times a week and trained to get faster and faster. I was able to walk on the cross-country team at my university, as they were just starting the team up, and I ended up becoming the team captain my senior year.

Shortly after graduating college, I found myself meeting a girl to run. We only knew each other because we were from the same home town, had a lot of mutual friends and were friends on social media. We had literally never spoken one word to each other. Sam and I were supposed to run 4 miles (2 laps on a 2 mile trail I knew about) and we ended up doing 4 LAPS that day!  

We continued running together 1-2 times per week. One day I stood her up (accidentally) for an early run. See I was working night shift at the time and somehow my clock was set to 5 P.M. and not A.M. That evening I asked her to go out to dinner (because I felt terrible for the stand-up). I think this was maybe 2-4 weeks in to us knowing each other. After this night, I knew she was the girl that I would marry and actually I remember calling my parents and telling them and their response was, “We thought she was the one.” How awesome right! We got married a year later and this is the best decision I have ever made.

Today some of my closest friends are my running friends. We meet friends to run several times a week and I enjoy doing long runs and catching up on the weekly football games. We do track workouts together. Having a group to run with has helped me tremendously. We push each other to be better and we support each other regardless.

Sam again. I know. Last time. Promise.

Over the course of the last 5 or so years after graduating from college, Daniel has taken his half marathon time down to 1:23. He didn’t want to write about his current times, but I just wanted to share that because I think it is really encouraging. He has gone from 2:01 to 1:23! I think his running story shows you just how far hard work, dedication and perseverance can get you. Cool, right?! Carry on.

I look back to my second year of college when I first began using my legs for His glory. My goal has always been for running to never be about me, but to allow me to glorify God. By my simple obedience in this, I met my best friend & bride and many of the closest friends that I have. I have found my community.

My dad and mom have stopped running now due to various injuries, but funny enough, both of my sisters and I now run and we have done several half and full marathons. They passed the torch to us and now we’ve been able to carry on this lifestyle. Running has meant something different to each of us, but it is something that has been a part of each of our lives.

Thanks for reading to the story of how I began running, how I met my wife, and how running impacts our life now.


Daniel Gardner
Never Sacrifice the Gift

7 thoughts on “Guest Post: Where It All Began”

  1. How sweet! Interesting to hear the other side of the story. So glad you guys met. You seem perfect for each other. My husband and I began as running partners as well:)


  2. This is a cool post. I love that Daniel has improved so much over the years and taken his half time down that much. Those are the kind of runners I like to read about, when people stick with it and don’t just settle but keep working toward excellence. My husband doesn’t run but he does MMA/BJJ and it really helps to be married to an athletic person because they get it! Endless loads of laundry, recovery “toys” like massagers and sticks, fuels, Sonic cherry limeades after a long run… ;).


  3. Love this!! So cool how God had it all arranged! after the shark run James said he retired from running, but i just don’t think so ha!!


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