Home Is Where the Half Marathon Is

By , Alicia Capetillo, Staff Writer
"I always considered myself chubby in high school," "After a pregnancy in my early 20s, my weight ballooned," "I yo-yo'd between 140 and 210 pounds more times than I care to admit," "I worked a stressful job and my activity level was minimal," "When I was on a healthy eating plan I considered it a 'diet' rather than an ongoing lifestyle."

Rhonda Wills' (GOING-STRONG) reasons for suffering from weight gain read like a top five list for why people fall off the healthy living wagon. Despite having a healthy BMI in high school, life, as it often does, got in the way of her health. Before she knew it, she was 215 pounds and knew she needed a change.

She joined Weight Watchers in 2007, her first step in developing a healthy relationship with food and a decision that would lead her to a lifetime love of fitness. After committing to and completing two years in the program, she started attending a local gym to round out her healthy lifestyle. It was here that the word "half marathon" entered her world.

"One of the regulars in my classes was a lady I had known for years. I had no idea, [though], that she participated in triathlons, half marathons and even full marathons," Wills said. "She is 10 years older than me, and [told me how she] power walks events, rather than run." With that, the seed was planted.

Intrigued by the challenge, Wills got to work. Starting with walking, she later added 30-minute jogging sessions on a mini trampoline, walking games on the Wii and walking DVDs at home to her training. When she found SparkPeople's 5K Your Way Challenges in 2010, she was ready. That year, she competed in her gym's annual 5K walking event on the beach. The following year, she competed in the same event, running. Then, she participated in the 10K walk, each year getting stronger and more confident.

"In 2015, I completed 10 half marathons. For 2016, I'm planning on doing at least 12," Wills said. "I have seen my finish times improve slightly in the past few years, but haven't made it a priority to push myself harder. I want to enjoy running and don't want it to feel like a chore."

To stay fit and half-marathon ready, Wills tries to get to the gym every morning for a spin or group weight-training class, in addition to her running and walking workouts. For those looking to jump on the half-marathon bandwagon, she recommends taking it one step at a time. Find a plan that works for you as an individual, trust the process, listen to music to stay motivated and check out running blogs to learn the language of running and meet other people training.

"Running is hard, [but] I have found that [it] clears my mind. When I finish a run I feel awesome, both mentally and physically," Wills said. "Working out is now just a part of who I am. It has been instrumental in maintaining my weight and I feel that I am doing everything possible to keep my health on the right track." 

On the successful journey to healthy living, exercise has a way of becoming a part of you. Home Is Where the Workout Is is a series featuring members like you who achieved their goals by getting hooked on exercise. Discover what can happen when people struggling with weight loss find their passion and change their lives.