By Atlanta Captain, J.T. Hale
Mr. Don’t Stop Get It Get It. Mr. Non-Stop. These are just a few of the nicknames that I have coined for Eric Duncan. Keep reading and you will see why. This brother right here, Eric Duncan, Vice-Captain for the Atlanta Chapter of Black Men Run, is the real deal Holyfield. He is a dedicated family man, brother, retired Navy man and run-streaker. This man has overcome numerous obstacles; unhealthy diet and weight, homelessness, and he is still humble, grateful but most importantly, he is still here!
Soooo, Eric, tell us about your fitness journey. How long have you been running?
I was in the Navy when I started running at about 26 years old. I was lifting weights I also played basketball. So I have always been active. I retired from the Navy in 2009 and I ballooned up to 320 pounds. Even though I was physically active, I was eating all the wrong foods, ie, junk food. I decided to do a few races down in my neck of the woods, Hampton and Fayetteville Georgia before I joined Black Men Run. Coming from the gym one evening, I ran into a guy with the BMR shirt on. He had just finished running and we chopped it up. He told me about the Monday night group runs at Grant Park. So I told him that I would come out. Right after BMR’s first anniversary is when I came out and joined in on the Monday night group runs. I’ve been running with them ever since. BMR just really lit a spark in me to DO SOMETHING. I really love the brotherhood, the comradery among Black men and in the Black running community. We all have individual goals even though we are all doing the same thing – we are moving. I’ve also been invited to join several other groups and some I did join but later parted ways. I stick with Black Men Run.
What’s it like for you being co-captain of the Atlanta chapter?
As co-captain, I just try to lead by example. I lead by example with my diet and my runstreak. I believe all the captains lead by example. I cannot just consume any and everything and expect these guys to do something better than that. BMR has been a great support system. I noticed people began to follow me on social media, tracking what I do with my run-streak. As Jason [Russell] always says ‘the world is watching’ and they really are. I am here for the brothers in this chapter. Really, I am just doing my own thing but in doing that I remain consistent.
You’re definitely not a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of guy. What does your diet consist of?
I eat fruit and vegetables. I used to eat meat and then I stopped. I became a vegetarian in 2011. But my diet was still bad, eating chips, cookies, junk food and alcohol. I still lost weight after I became a vegetarian. Once I cut out all that junk food, I saw even more weight come off. Now I am strictly vegan. So yeah, I eat a lot of fruit and sometimes only fruit. But I do eat vegetables too. The result of my vegan diet is that I recover a lot quicker from physical activity and injury. I feel lighter and I seem to have better endurance and energy.
How did you get started with your run streak and what keeps you going?
I recently checked my run app and I am well over 10,000 miles. I started my run streak around the Veteran’s Day holiday a few years ago. I committed to run for 30 days for all my veterans. After the 30th day, I said to myself ‘well, may as well keep going’ and I haven’t stopped yet. 1700+ days later, I am still running every day. Sometimes I do 2 miles, other times I do more. Its whatever I feel when I get out there. I just go. I even received a lot of backlash from posting my progress on social media. “Why are you doing this?’ and “your body is going to break down’ and the first question I ask them is ‘have you done a run streak before?’ and the say ‘no’….then I just walk away from them. LOL. Some people have even inboxed me asking if I am really running every single day. But honestly, I am not doing this for them or anyone else. I am doing this for me. That’s what matters. I may decide to stop tomorrow or next week. Who knows? I take it one day at a time.
Any advice for new runners?
If you’re thinking about it, don’t think about it. Just get out there and do it. Do what you can. Be consistent. Don’t try to keep up with guys who have been doing this for years. Just make sure you start, then stick to a routine. If you stay consistent, you will see improvements. It just takes a little bit of effort and your commitment. Slow down if you need to but keep going.
NOTE: The Atlanta Chapter recently completed a 31-day run streak in observance of our 8-year anniversary. Brother Eric Duncan was the inspiration for this group activity. Today [Aug. 5, 2021] is Day#1733.