Why do you run? Why does Michael Phelps swim? That’s what we take on in “Why I…,” our series in which we explore the passion of athletes — from all walks of life, at different levels and with diverse interests — in their own words. Finding your passion is key to staying motivated to live a healthy lifestyle.
For this stop in our series, we check in with Peter King, dog lover, grandfather, legendary football writer and editor-in-chief of The MMQB, Sports Illustrated’s pro football microsite. When he’s not working on his weekly 8,000-word column, he’s working out. Here’s why…
My ulterior motive is to avoid death.
Both of my brothers died way too young. My older brother, Ken, wasn’t in great shape, but he walked a lot. He was 64 and had a tumor on his liver they didn’t discover until after he died. My other brother, Bob, who died of a faulty heart valve at 55, was an avid bicyclist, ran many marathons and was a lot healthier than me.
When I was 18, I was disciplined. As captain of my high school soccer team, I knew I had to run a certain number of hills every day to be in shape. But now my goal is to not get fat. I want to be able to cash in some of the chips I’ve earned over the years and have a pretty good life in addition to what I do.
When I came home from covering Super Bowl XL in 2006, I weighed 288 pounds. For 25 years of my life, I never worked out. That’s a lot of time to be idle. That year, I was determined that, for the next six months, the only thing I was going to do was work out 5–6 days a week and eat five small meals a day. When I started my training camp trip that summer, I weighed 217 pounds. People were positive I’d had gastric bypass surgery.
I weighed 228 pounds this morning. I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill and did some other work with my trainer. I’ll be at the gym almost every day this week, SoulCycle on Saturday and take Sunday off. I live four blocks away from both places here in Manhattan. I feel a lot better walking away from the gym than I feel walking to the gym.
I’ve done so many different forms of exercise: the elliptical, the cross-country ski machine, the recumbent bike. I consistently do SoulCycle once a week. I love it because I walk in there and 45 minutes later, I’m drenched in sweat and feel like I’ve been part of some sort of team activity.
I’m indoors now, but when the weather gets better, I’ll either be in the gym, in Central Park or Riverside Park. There’s a 10K most weekends in Central Park, which is basically one loop around the park. I’ll pick one and do that.
I can’t say I like running. I like having run. But if I don’t do it for a while, I miss it. And I start to feel creaky. I’m 59 years old. The way to feel 59 is not get any exercise.
— As told to Danny Bonvissuto
Raised in: Enfield, Connecticut
Roots for: Boston Red Sox
Dream job: Owning a minor league baseball team
Travels for work: 60–70 days a year
Number of readers per week his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column draws during football season: 2 million
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT