''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.
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Member Comments

great article Report
Relief is temporary but keep at it Report
Great article Report
I've found that exercise does help to lessen grief and depression. It gives me something to focus on. Report
Congrats on your progress! Report
Congratulations on becoming a runner! Report
This is the first time I've seen this. How nice to know a little more about you. Report
Very interesting story! I'm actually quite intrigued with the part by which the author stated she gained weight when she started running. Namely, I wonder how that happened. Was it a change in diet? Report
I'm proud of you! Thank you for the inspiration. Lately I have been pushing myself harder hoping to do a marathon someday. :-) when I have much on my mind I like to run it out. It makes problems seem smaller, when I feel stronger. Sorry to hear about your mom. Peace be with you! Report
I also took up running to help me with the grief of losing my mom, my cousin and my grandmother in less than a year's time. I was mired in sadness, depression and tears. I cried every day. I stayed home, baked, cried and didn't want to leave the house. A friend talked me into running with her. I had already lost 70 lbs and taken up cycling but running was so therapeutic for me.

A big hug and high five to those who turn to exercise and exertion to overcome grief. We have lost a tremendous amount but we gain something priceless along the way. That feeling of peace and at oneness that we get during and after a run. I can feel my mom with me, high-fiving me along the way. Report
I really needed to read this article, I just posted a blog about how I have no motivation due to greif, We lost my husbands son last New Years in a drunk driving accident and this holiday season has just not been that great. A few months back I joined a gym and was exercising on a daily basis then the gym closed and I got depressed again. I did notice that going to the gym really did help. These days though I am having trouble getting motivated, I guess because we are coming up on the one year anniversary of my stepsons death.
This article did give me some good insight on a healthy way to deal with grief. Thank you for sharing about your loss and what you did to help cope with that loss.
My prayers are with you and your family.
Thank You. Report
MissyJ! Look how far we've both come! I'm so proud of you! Report
Best wishes to you Jackie. You took a hard time in your life and dealt with it in a positive way, good luck! Report
How awesome to see you featured on SparkPeople Jackie! You are truly an inspiration! Report