''Nothing Brings Me Joy Like Running Does''

Gail (RHYNIC) has been a SparkPeople member since 2006. She is a co-leader for the Road Runners SparkTeam, which is the largest SparkTeam for runners, with more than 70,000 members. Gail has been running for more than 3 years; she started with the walk/jog method and progressed to her first marathon in 2007.

Gail Before Gail After
Gail Before Gail After

What made you decide to start running?
I had been walking off and on for a long time and felt the need to try something different. One day, I simply added a few minutes of running to my walk. I loved the challenge! From then on, I ran just a little bit more each day I exercised.

How do you keep your runs fun and interesting?
I find running, in itself, interesting. Some days I run fast, other days I run slow. Some days I turn left, others right. Running works for me because it's the one hour a day that I can completely live in the present. When I run, I don't worry about tomorrow and totally forget about the past.

Were you intimidated to start running? How did you overcome that?
Starting wasn't intimidating for me because I was on my treadmill, in my basement, alone. However, I didn't feel confident enough to take my run outside. One day while on the treadmill, the sun started shining in through the tiny basement window. It was a perfect spring day to be outside. While running, I completely understood that I was the only thing standing in my way. I thought too much about what others thought of me. I decided that the people living in my tight knit community talked about everyone, but if the talk that day were going to be about me running—so be it! Once I completed my first run outdoors, I knew running would never be the same for me again. The runner inside of me was set free.

Any tips for someone just beginning to run?
Run for yourself and no one else. Take things slowly. Allow yourself to be totally proud for each new distance you run— every step counts. My first 3-mile run was as hard as my first 20-mile run! Also, adding walk breaks to a run doesn't make you less of a runner. And, if you don't feel like running, go anyway— it could very well end up being your best run of the year.

Besides weight loss, what other improvements have you noticed?
If I were solely running to lose weight, I might have quit years ago. Although running has helped me keep the weight off (I lost about 60 pounds over six years ago), it is no longer the reason I continue to run. I honestly never really felt like I fit in anywhere. Everything others were doing didn’t seem appealing to me: I am not into fashion, I don't feel the need to have my hair done every day, and sitting at the beach is not for me. But now, I feel like I have a place in this world because of my love of running. As a runner, I have come to believe that everyone needs a passion in life. I go to bed at night looking forward to the next day, the next run, the next race. I also love the people I have met because of running. I now have a confidence that was not there before I started my running journey.

What are some of your running goals?
My ultimate goal is to qualify and run the Boston Marathon. There is a drive within me that I believe will get me there.

What are some of your accomplishments?
So far I have completed one 5K, three 10Ks, two half marathons, two marathons, one relay race, and one mini triathlon. I have met up with Sparkers at many of the races, too. There is nothing more fun than meeting fellow SparkPeople runners!

Anything else you'd like to add?
I know I would not be the runner that I am today if it weren’t for SparkPeople. Every day I have a place to go and talk with friends about running. None of my real life friends are runners. So far, I have met five SparkPeople friends and raced with one as well! Running brings me joy and makes my world a wonderful place. I wish everyone could feel as good as I feel after a great run.