My guest today is another member of the MS Run the US relay team from 2021.
This year wasn’t his first time running for the cause, he was initially a part of the 2020 team, but was unable to do the actual relay because it went virtual due to the pandemic.
No doubt we will have a lot to talk about as I go a few easy miles with DJ Butz.
Starting From An Unhealthy Place
DJ Butz has been running nearly his entire life, but it didn’t start from a healthy place.
At around the age of 11, DJ would often run 2 to 3 miles multiple times a week.
His motivation to run was strongly intertwined with body image issues.
In hindsight, he realized that he likely had an undiagnosed eating disorder.
As each year passed and he got older, DJ began to gain more awareness about his behaviors.
While in high school, he ran on the cross country team for a couple of years.
His running has continued to evolve over the years.
Never Say Never
In his early years of running, DJ never loved races, but that mindset gradually began to shift.
As a young adult, he did a handful of half marathons along with one marathon attempt in 2012.
After his failed marathon, DJ said he would never do that again.
As most runners may have guessed, he did in fact try the marathon distance again.
It was a full 5 years of growing curiosity as to whether he could complete a marathon.
Finally, in 2017, DJ crossed the finish line of his first full.
DJ attributed his unsuccessful marathon attempt to both a lack of experience along with poor nutrition.
Running For A Cause
DJ’s mother-in-law has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 35 years.
In the time that he has known her, he began to run races pushing her in a wheelchair.
He would often choose races that would raise awareness and funds for MS.
In his search for races, DJ came across MS Run the US, a 6-day relay that consisted of running 25 miles per day.
DJ was intrigued by the idea and even ran a few miles with a segment runner in 2019 to see the event first-hand.
The seed was planted that day and it didn’t take long for him to officially apply for the team and be accepted.
The year 2020, was the year that most if not all races went virtual.
MS Run the US was no exception.
DJ decided to shift his disappointment into action.
He wanted to find a way to do something fun to raise awareness in his community.
DJ chose a local park with a 1-mile loop to hold his makeshift MS Run the US virtual event.
His goal was to complete 15 loops per day for 6 days.
An invitation to join him extended to anyone that wanted to come and support the cause.
The community showed up more than he could have ever imagined and as a group they did between 400 to 500 laps along with him in those 6 days.
MS Run the US Round 2
From the moment MS Run the US went virtual in 2020, there was little doubt in DJ’s mind that he would run in the event again the following year.
Doing the virtual event before the live event, was a blessing in disguise for DJ.
The first year allowed him to experiment with what worked and see how his body would handle substantial mileage 6 days in a row.
One big difference he noticed in training for each event was what kept him moving forward.
The first year his training was fueled by motivation and the next year it was fueled by discipline.
Focused On the “Why”
The week of the relay was projected to be a hot one, but DJ had trained consistently and was filled with excitement.
Each day he was met with different challenges, but his hardest portion of the relay was the first day.
His excitement overtook his plan on day 1, but after that, he was able to settle into the routine.
Much to DJ’s surprise, the challenge didn’t get harder as the days went on.
He attributed that to many factors including putting a major focus on enjoying the journey and keeping the “why” at the forefront of his mind.
Three things that had a huge impact on his ability to succeed were: nutrition, daily ice baths, and a consistent stretching routine.
He admittedly couldn’t have accomplished what he did without an amazing crew supporting him every step of the way.
Pushing his mother-in-law across the finish line was the culmination of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
DJ was surprised when he was sad to finish the event rather than the relief he expected to feel.
The organization exceeded his expectations in various ways.
MS Run the Us allows the runners to be engaged in multiple facets including with the community and fundraising.
DJ didn’t have much experience fundraising prior to the MS Run the US events.
He understands that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
DJ found that organizing small events to engage people in fun and unique ways was the most successful approach.
While fundraising, he found that many more people than he expected had a personal connection to MS and wanted to donate.
Mentioned In This Episode:
Stay connected with DJ Butz by following him on Instagram.
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