Finding This Group Changed My Running

That Was Me… All 300 Pounds of Me.

I was a hot mess.  Well, let’s be honest, I am still a hot mess, but I am a mostly healthy hot mess now.  I have struggled with my weight and living a healthy lifestyle most of my adult life. In 2009, I gained 50 pounds..  I needed help and truly felt like I was at the end of a rapidly fraying rope. On July 22, 2009, I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), a permanent weight loss surgery.  Simply put, I had three quarters of my stomach removed; instead of a pouch shaped stomach, I now have a sleeve-like tube stomach. I am incredibly proud to say that I have maintained 100 to 110 pounds of weight loss.

Struggling to Run

Three months after VSG, I hit 50lbs lost and I was ready to increase my exercise level.  I came across an article in Women’s Health about learning how to run as a complete beginner.  It was their version of Couch To 5k. I ran 3 times a week inconsistently and repeated weeks when I did not feel ready to move on. The article never discussed what to do if you had rough weeks and I did not feel comfortable moving on.  Their program went slowly in the beginning but it quickly jumped in time, 3 minutes running, then 5, after that 8, all the way to 10 minutes. As a new and heavier runner, those large jumps were very challenging and defeating. At times I wondered if I would ever feel like a runner.

Running Through Pregnancy

I found out I was pregnant with our first son on January 25, 2010.  I walked through most of my pregnancy because my doctor told me my heart rate was getting too high.  At that point in my running I was still never really in control of my breathing.  I was still running too hard, and couldn’t fully recover during the walking portions.

Twelve weeks after Aidan was born, I ran my first race, the last leg of the Tucson Marathon Relay.  Seven miles with one goal: Run the entire thing. I accomplished it but at a SLOW pace of 17 mins a mile!  I had nothing to compare it to, but I hit my goal and I was ecstatic. Many races later, I truly believe it could have been so much better with a proper training plan and some experienced guidance.

I continued to run for the next two years until my second pregnancy.  Following training plans I found online, it was always difficult to finish the required distances. I pushed harder on every single run because I wanted to be faster but had no idea how to go about it. When I found out I was pregnant again, my doctors gave me the thumbs up to keep running and I tried desperately to run but this pregnancy took its toll on me.  I struggled to get back to running after Connor was born. Balancing 2 kids and breastfeeding (which I did not have the ability to do with my first), I just could not seem to find the balance. I would run but could seem to only last for a few minutes before I was completely drained.  It took longer for my body to bounce back and I felt so defeated.

Finding My Group

I found the 5k Running Start Group after getting a shoe fitting and signed up immediately. This group changed my running!  This program also teaches run/walk intervals but is different in how it progresses. In other programs I had used in the past, the end goal was always to run the distance non-stop.  This program stresses that using scheduled walking intervals during the run was beneficial to me, my body, and most surprising, my pace. We trained slower and learned about form, cadence, breathing, hydration, stretching, and how important recovery was.  Utilizing scheduled walking intervals has been what keeps me running and healthy.

The second part of the Running Start Group that changed my running was discovering a group of runners who were no different than me to meet with every week who kept me accountable and support each other in our goals.  I met runners from all walks of life. Some were new moms like me, some were recovering from injury, some had never run before yet we all had something in common. We wanted to run better and needed help to do it. We all learned together and I finally loved how it felt to run which I can’t say I always enjoyed it in the past.   The 5k training program truly changed how I looked at running.

Now, 9 years after I first started running, I am able to share my passion with the runners of SWET and the local running community.  Special thanks needs to be given to my late grandfather who planted the seed of running, my husband who has supported and pushed me, and to my first coaches and mentors, Jeanne and Pete Snell, for giving me the opportunity to share my passion with other beginner runners!

You can find information about Southwest Endurance Training’s 5K Running Start Group here:

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