Pete Coser, Jr. | Age: 42 | Jenks, OK (Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation)
Muscogee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Marathon Runner

Pete’s dad is an educator and that was my tie to the Coser family. Over the last few years, I’ve been watching Pete Coser, Jr. as he had made remarkable strides in getting his health in gear through running and nutrition. He’s been an inspiration to me and many others who have watched him on social media (or in real life).

We have a lot in common. Old athletes die hard around here. And eventually we learn that as adults, we can’t eat like that 17 year old power house of yesteryear. Here’s his highly relatable story in his own words:

“Hesci! I am Pete Coser, Jr. and I am a proud citizen of the Muscogee Nation and descendant from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. I am also a proud father of 4 amazing kids, tribal nonprofit director, Red Land Drum Family member, and assistant lacrosse coach for Jenks High School. 

When Professor Leeds asked me to share my story, my mind immediately went blank about my personal story (LOL). Like a lot of folks, I highly respect Professor Leeds with her massive amount of work in Native law and her own health/fitness stories. I’m proud to share my perspective and hope that it provides some inspiration to help our Native folks needing an extra boost to their personal health journeys. 

I began my marathon running journey in 2017. Throughout my years, I played lacrosse and ran an occasional 5K or 10K. I wasn’t in bad shape, but good enough. What changed for me in 2017? Initially, not much. Thought that I would give running a try. I saw loved ones cross their own marathon lines and thought I’d like to give it a shot. Also, body checks and bruises from game play were kind of getting old and hurt a little bit longer. 

During that year, running, quickly became a great lifestyle.  It taught me tons of life lessons, I gained new friends, explored different cities, and has given me a new definition of “self-love.” So it’s all rainbows, dragons, and unicorns, right?! Not quite so…

For me, during COVID restrictions, I really let my diet go out the window. It was easy… we all were stuck at home, watching endless loops of Food TikTok, and trying out new recipes. I don’t know how many times I made biscuits and gravy, bacon wrapped chicken tenders, etc. Unfortunately, I wasn’t running as much and it really caught up with me. 

I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2021. During my usual marathon training and prep, my body wasn’t responding like it normally does. About half way through, the weight usually falls off, my run times get faster, and I feel a lot better. Not this time – the weight stuck around, my diet wasn’t good, and I experienced more lingering injuries than before. This trend followed me into Spring 2022 when I ran the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. Even as I picked up a tailored training regiment, my body did not respond like before. Basically, I ran Chicago and OKC on survival mode.

Fast forward to Summer 2022 and training for the New York City Marathon- I visited my doctor and was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. My a1c was out of wack, diet uncontrolled, and running was inconsistent. After getting my medicine, I freaked out and went straight to my local grocery store and bought everything fat-free, sugar-free, and borderline “keto”. Later that week, I went on my scheduled long run and bonked out early in the run due to little carbs and sugar in my system. The following Monday, I visited with my diabetes educator, she looked at my sugar readings and diet, basically said “Yea, don’t ever do that again” (LOL). 

My educator worked with me on eating controlled portions of carbs, sugar, and proteins. Healthy and smarter ways of cooking as well as smarter choices. Weight was finally dropping and I began to feel better. My body wasn’t near as in shape as before (NYC Marathon was still a struggle bus), but everything started turning the corner. 

Leading into this past year, Spring 2023 run season was pretty fun. I didn’t have a goal race, but focused on my run base and conditioning. Weight continued to drop, a1c was consistently low, diet was much better, and running felt much better. And that was the focus leading into Fall 2023 marathon season; building consistency. I ran Marine Corps Marathon and made it through the heat and humidity. Afterwards, I came home and three weeks later, set a personal record running Route 66 Marathon. 

To be honest, eating has been one of my toughest battles. Part of it stems from being a football lineman during the 90’s era, which they wanted us to gain weight and told us to eat everything under the sun. So, food became somewhat an addiction. Another stigma is that I have diabetes on both sides of my family. An additional example is being a parent; sometimes the only food choices we make happens at the end of an exhausting day at which no one wants to cook so we hit up McDonald’s or Sonic. 

Is it easy to fall off and eat comfort food? Oh yeah… it is easy. I love pizzas, burgers, and tacos like everyone else. Powwow foods (frybread, Indian Tacos, meatpies) go wild and delicious. But like running and everything else, you can quickly get back to heathier and smarter eating. I always go back to lessons learned the past year. One major lesson I learned throughout this experience- even eating healthier/smarter is an act of self-love. It keeps you accountable to fueling with proper foods, preparing and cooking foods, and how often you consume foods. After my changes, my kids ate smarter foods with me and they began to feel much better. So, it is not necessarily a personal choice, but also life lessons for your kids and their wellbeing. 

Over a year later and 60+ lbs lost, the marathon continues (to quote the great Nipsey Hussle). Training hasn’t stopped, smarter foods is the focus, working closely with health professionals, and looking forward to new adventures. Feel free to hit me up on Instagram (@djwicket). Mvto, Wado, Thank You for letting me share my journey and I hope to see you on the pavement soon. Apeyvkes! (Let’s Go!)”