Martinus Evans weighed about 370 pounds when a doctor threw the F-word in his face: “Mr. Evans, you’re fat.”
He'd come in for help after work-related hip pain and weeks of physiotherapy. When the doc suggested that he start walking, Martinus’ angry response would carve him a new life:
“Screw that. I’m gonna run a marathon.”
Soon, he started the Couch to 5K training program and began blogging his journey on his site, 300 Pounds and Running. Fuelled by defiance, determination, and a weight loss goal, in October of 2013, he put his marathon where his mouth was and finished the Detroit Marathon. It was a huge personal win—but his road to running was just beginning.
In January and July of 2014 he was in two separate car accidents that knocked him out of his running shoes and into painful recovery until early 2016. He got back up and went out. Then, tackling a runstreak, he developed tears in his Achilles tendon that benched him again. Now, FINALLY, he’s up and running, training for this year’s New York Marathon.
Martinus hosts the 300 Pounds and Running podcast, was recently featured in Runner’s World magazine, is a certified RRCA coach, and has written his own eBook, Zero to Running. I had the pleasure of interviewing him about the latest leg of his journey, what it’s like to be plus-sized and Black in a thin white sport, man boobs, his goals, and more.
Strap into your sneakers, it's about to get real.
What do you think brings you back to running after all of these injuries and setbacks?
Running’s my mechanism! People have their things. With me, running my marathon, being on top of the world, running has been my thing. This is what I wanna do.
The other thing is [me] being a sad puppy, for lack of a better word. You know, like you’re a puppy in the back seat and you lookin’ out the window. I would just drive, it would be a bright and sunny day, and I would just see runners running by. I’d feel sad like “DAMN. That used to be me! I want to get out there again!”
Until pretty recently, running has been a thin, white sport.
What’s your experience being not only a plus-sized athlete, but also a person of colour?
Where do I start?! As an athlete, as a person who has been an offensive lineman, I’ve always been someone who has used their weight for advantage. When it comes to all the other sports, it’s all about being explosive.The faster you are, the bigger advantage you have.
When I started running, I didn’t think about long distance. I thought about like… sprinters. That’s … one of the reasons I didn’t succeed in Couch to 5k the first 4-5 attempts, because I’m trying to run as fast as I can for a minute and a half, as opposed to learning the concept of a conversation pace.
Also, yes do you do get those weird looks. You get those bro types like, “RUN, FAT MAN WOOOO!” But I think as a man I don’t receive those comments as much as my female counterparts.
"Being a fat Black man doing this is like an oxymoron."
As far as being a person of colour... Being a fat Black man doing this is like an oxymoron. Me being out here in New England, Massachusetts, being in a primarily white neighbourhood... It’s interesting. You get the double takes.
Even talking to my family, I’m like “I’m gonna go for a run” and they’re like “no man, a run? That’s some white people type shit! I’m not running unless a dog’s chasing me, or I’m in danger!” It’s very crazy, talking to my friends back in Detroit, where I grew up. They’re like “you’ve been up in Massachusetts too long, hanging around the white folks, because we ain’t running out here for like health or fitness!” The community just doesn’t understand.
WhaT'S BEEN YOUR biggest obstacle as a runner?
A) Injuries. B) Motivation and mindset. I would say injuries because being a bigger person, you’ve got a lot of moving parts, one of the things just happens—a lot of people suffer from shin splints and things of that sort. I think a lot of people go out too fast, too soon and hurt themselves before they get into a groove.
The other one is mindset. The thing is, people compare themselves a lot—and don’t think of themselves AS being a runner because they’re like OH, I did run/walk intervals, or I’m not as fast as the speed demon next to me on the treadmill. It’s a mindset type of thing—if you doing anything faster than a walk, you’re running.
FLIP THAT: What’s a recent victory you achieved?
I feel like I have victories every DAY! In pertaining to that Instagram post I put up, that was a huge victory. (Editor’s note: Martinus is talking about this post, which encouraged me to contact him in the first place!) You know, I’m a man with boobs. Having man boobs is something that a lot of men are afraid to talk about. So me taking off my shirt and being A) uncomfortable about the situation B) being like I’mma post this on the internet where … I’ve got tens of thousands of followers… That’s a victory.
Me, being on this workout streak for three or four weeks in a row... THAT’S a victory. Hell, just getting out the bed, at 6 a.m. is a victory. Because there was a lot of times going through depression and not working out that I just stayed in the bed. Whereas now… It’s a priority.
What does running give you that you don’t get anywhere else?
Peace. Gives me peace of mind. Running ... is the only time where I can calm down the inner voices in my head. There's just something about that. You got work, you wanna watch TV, you got social media, everything's pinging you. Running is the one time I can just silence it all. It can just be me, and me breathing and like hearing the sounds my body make when it hits the pavement.
For me, I feel the most when I’m with my maker, the grand architect of the universe, when I’m running. Me going into a church. Don’t do nothing for me. That’s when I’m at peace and at one with whoever the maker of the universe is.
And what are some of your future goals?
My big goal is the NYC marathon. I got entered into it last year but because of my Achilles issue I just couldn’t get healed enough to do the race, so I deferred it. So I got that race this year. I’m doing this thing called the Boston Athletics Association Medley—a 5k, 10k, half marathon throughout the year. I got a couple half marathons I signed up for. I got a calendar full of things. My big goal for next year is to do an ironman.
Last question: Did you ever go back to that doctor?
Absolutely not! I am not going back to anybody who treats me wrong. He’s dead to me. It’s just not cool to tell your patient “you're fat.” Granted, that was the catalyst I needed to get off my butt, to get going, but there’s a lot of other people who don’t have that personality that I have. I’m super competitive.
You tell me I can’t, I’mma show you why I can.