When St. Louis resident Todd Lewis heard former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz speak during a conference several years ago, “it was at that moment I decided to start living my life and getting involved in fitness.”
Since deciding to overhaul his lifestyle, Lewis, who is a global account manager for a telecom company, has completed 40 marathons — 15 in one year and two marathons in two days. He has also done a 50-mile race and the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Aside from running, Lewis has also taken up climbing. “I have traveled to Nepal for the Base Camp of Mt. Everest, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Hood, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Whitney, Mt. Washington, et cetera,” he says. “I was 33 years old before I even started and am so glad I heard Coach Holtz’s message when I did. It is amazing what we can accomplish with a little encouragement and kind words. If I can do it, anyone can.”
Check out our Q-and-A with Lewis below.
You mentioned you were 33 years old before you started taking fitness seriously. What was your life like prior to that?
My life was good but it was more focused on work. I had never been out of the country and didn’t have any goals for my future. I loved sports but rarely did I get out of my comfort zone and try new things. In college, I was in a fraternity that taught us the concept of the Balanced Man. I think I am closer to that today.
What about Lou Holtz’s speech inspired you to embark on such a journey?
What impressed me was the fact Coach Holtz spoke to the crowd and not at them. He didn’t have a teleprompter or a written speech. He just spoke from the heart, and he wasn’t trying to sell DVDs or books; it was just about his message. Do what is right, treat others as you want to be treated, and show people that you care. I remember he encouraged the crowd to list out the goals we wanted out of life.
Was your goal from the beginning to run 15 marathons in one year or to scale mountains? Or did you have smaller aspirations? Where did you begin and how did you grow?
I had never run over five miles when I started my list of goals. One of my goals was to run a marathon, and then it grew to running 40 marathons before I turned 40 years old. I was 33 years old at the time of my list, so I had to make up for lost time. That led to 15 marathons in a year (two of those being Memphis and Las Vegas [on back-to-back days]. I did have smaller goals as well such as: 1) Take my mother to Ireland. 2) Learn to use a speed bag. 3) Meet Coach Holtz in person and thank him. 4) Meet with Mark Cuban. 5) Spend time with a survivor from the USS Indianapolis. [Yes, Lewis accomplished all five of those goals.]
It’s interesting that you’ve been to six of the seven continents and the one you’re missing is not Antarctica. Where have you yet to travel and what did you do in Antarctica?
The last continent for me is Australia, and I plan on going there in 2018. Antarctica was breathtaking. It is a place where animals don’t fear humans and the icebergs look like castles. It was an expedition — there were classes on board the ship everyday, and then we would have a briefing in the evenings to go over the itinerary for the next day. When morning came we broke into our groups and got into Zodiacs so we could land on shore. The Zodiac is a small inflatable boat that allowed us to go to the shore without having to take the entire ship. We observed the wildlife — penguins, leopard seals, southern elephant seals and whales. One morning, we hiked to the top of an active volcano on Deception Island.
What does a day in the life look like for you?
Every day starts with reading or listening to something inspiring. Then I go to the list I prepared the night before of the things I want to accomplish for that day regarding work, exercise, entertainment, family and friends. When my night is winding down, I usually read.
What do you say to people who don’t exercise because “there’s not enough time in the day?”
If you want something bad enough, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. Hannibal Barca once said, “Either I will find a way or I will make one” when he was crossing the Alps. It all boils down to how bad a person wants to succeed and what they will do to push themselves. We are far more capable than we believe, and the first person you must convince is yourself.
After traveling all over the globe and doing so many cool things, what keeps you coming back to St. Louis?
St. Louis has a lot of the same treasures as foreign countries. We have some of the most beautiful architecture; our city has so many different cultures and beliefs. Regardless of what a person’s beliefs are, they should visit the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis; I have traveled the world and not see anything more beautiful. I try to visit the Soulard Farmer’s Market each week because you see a melting pot of people as well as tradition.
My mother, brother, Coach Holtz, a fraternity brother Matt Toole, Todd Marinovich, Mike Tyson, Maynard James Keenan. I am sure people will see Todd Marinovich and Mike Tyson and wonder why I look up to them. Both of them had it all and then lost it but they never gave up and they continue to learn and grow. Todd Marinovich even made a comeback in football at age 48, and Mike Tyson knows more about history, philosophy and forgiveness than I will ever know. Music also plays a huge role in keeping me inspired. For me, music is just like poetry; it makes everything better.
How important is nutrition in your life? Do you take advantage of meditation or yoga to work out the mind as well as the body?
There is an old boxing quote: “Kill the head and the body will die.” You wouldn’t drive a racecar with poor fuel, nor should a person try to run their body on it. Your mind needs exercise as well. I pray and meditate daily. I brought back a singing bowl and prayer beads from Nepal, and it helps me meditate. The night before a run, climb, or trip I spend the last part of the evening imagining the finish line of the summit. I listen to music and I keep telling myself that I didn’t come here to fail. Before I go to sleep I see myself crossing that finish line and summiting that mountain. M