''I Overcame Grief and Self-Doubt by Running''

Jackie (MISSJCISRUNNING) has been a member of SparkPeople since 2007. She started running to help deal with the death of her mother and has progressed to marathon and triathlon training.

What made you decide to start running?
I didn't decide to start running—it just happened! I was motivated by one of my SparkTeam co-leaders.  I had only been a member of SparkPeople for about three months and had just lost my mother to colon cancer. My Teammates encouraged me to work out more in order to deal with my grief. I had already reached my weight-loss goal but had not done much more than ride my bike and take daily walks. My co-leader suggested I add some running intervals to my walks. I was resistant to the suggestions because any other time I had attempted running I was left huffing, puffing and felt defeated! But I decided to try, and after watching the LA Marathon on television, I registered for my first 5K. I have been running and racing consistently ever since.

How do you keep your runs fun and interesting?
I participate in a lot of races because that keeps things fun and always gives me something to look forward to. I also love to map out different routes throughout the city. Being a part of the running community—whether it is on SparkPeople or in my own city—is awesome! There are so many helpful and supportive people who are willing to share their experiences.

Were you intimidated to start running? How did you overcome that?
I was not intimated, but I thought I was incapable of running. Once I realized that running had to be learned, practiced and mastered, I stopped worrying about what other people might think and just focused on improving me. The best advice I ever got was to run my own race. That's how I run and that's how I live my life.

Any tips for someone just beginning to run?
Take it slow and give your body a chance to catch up. Running is hard but worth the challenge! I would suggest joining a local running group, because having the constant support and encouragement of other like-minded people is immeasurable.

Besides weight loss, what other improvements have you noticed?
I actually gained some weight when I started running, so I have really had to focus on other improvements. The biggest improvement is in my physical and mental confidence. I was injured during one of my long training runs, but I managed to get home on my own. I found that no matter what, I could take care of myself. As a woman, that was huge for me! That confidence carried me across the finish line at my first half marathon and has pushed me through some very tough runs while training for my first marathon.

What are some of your running goals and accomplishments?
Since April 2008, I have completed a number of short-distance races, two trail races, 13 half marathons and two marathons, including the Athens Marathon in 2010, which celebrated the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle Of Marathon. I also ran the infamous Hood To Coast Relay with several other SparkPeople members!  I'm currently pursuing my RRCA running coach certification, and  training for my third marathon.