Readers, meet Austina. She is just like you. She works full time, attends church, and participates in community events. She is a wife, a step-mom to 3, and a devoted aunt. She is smart, funny, witty, kind, and compassionate. She changed her life, and you can too.
My running story starts when I was in the 9th grade. I wanted to do a sport, so I tried out for the volleyball team, but didn’t make the team. I wanted so desperately to participate in a team sport so I joined the cross country team. I had no idea what I was getting into. I can still remember how awful I felt after my first race, but I finished. During 9th and 10th grade, I learned a lot from a great coach and had a lot of fun. I was never fast but always a determined runner.
Fast forward a few years. At 29, I got married, and during my first 4 years of marriage, I gained something like 40lbs. Yikes! Last October, I was almost 200lbs. I’m only 5’3” so that’s a lot of weight for my short frame, and I felt awful. As an adult I have often struggled with food and with my weight. I tend to be an emotional eater and I just plain like food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy baking. I read cookbooks the way some people read novels!
Over the years, I have done the Weight Watchers program, and I think the most I have ever really lost was 25-30lbs. I never did much exercising; all I would do was change my eating habits and follow the rules. In October 2012, a Weight Watchers at Work meeting started and I said this is it; I have got to take care of myself. I signed up and promptly got to work. The difference this time was that I knew I had to add exercise to my life. So I started simple and started walking. Later that year, my employer opened up a new athletic facility, so I started using the elliptical machine.
April 2013 rolled around and I had lost 25lbs and was feeling pretty good. The weather changed,and I decided one afternoon I wanted to do something outside. I went to a local park to walk. I walked a lap and thought to myself I wonder if I can run. So I tried to run a lap, it was about a mile, and I didn’t die. I walked another lap and then ran another lap. I was so excited. I texted my friend Lauren with my exciting news! She suggested I run a 5k that Friday. I thought she was nuts. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to do something to get the ball rolling. I showed up on Friday with a secret goal of running the entire race and finishing in 45 minutes. Not only did I run the entire race, but I also finished in 40 minutes. A few days later I signed up for a 10k. I finished that race in 1:15. Wow, did I ever surprise myself. I have since signed up for a half in November, and when I finish writing this I’m signing up for a 20k in August.
How has running changed your life?
I am gaining a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction from running. I started out running while listening to music. I quit doing that a few weeks ago and run mostly by myself, except on Thursdays. These days Thursday evening rolls around and I love telling folks I run with my friend Lauren, you know she runs marathons. I’m encouraged by how kind she is to run with me at my 13-minute-a-mile pace. She helps to push me, she gives me strategy, and she encourages my progress. She even pushed me to run through rivers and downpours last week. In general, I feel better. I have time alone. I figured if I gave time to the TV, then I had time to give myself to run and take care of my body.
What obstacles have you faced?
The weather. We have had a tremendous amount of rain over the last few weeks, but now I know I can run in the rain and I won’t melt! I have had to plan my exercise the same way I plan my food. It doesn’t happen by accident. I must make the time for it.
What advice would you give someone who is where you were?
Remind yourself that starting races and finishing those races is a great goal to start with; I will never be a top finisher. But I want to always be a finisher! And perhaps most important of all, be patient with yourself. Share your successes with others. It will be more of an encouragement to others than you will ever realize. Be ok running solo, but find some running friends too. Facebook ones are good, but ones in “real life” are even better.
What are some of your goals?
I want to run a marathon, but mostly I just want to keep on running. I want running to be part of who I am as a person. It’s a part of my story now and I want it to stay that way. There was a lady in my church when I was in high school that still ran races into her 80s. That’s the kind of runner I want to be. Signing up for races will really help me stay on track. I think I’m going to be the kind of person who runs races every few months. It will give me goals to work towards, paid accountability if you will. J
|in the middle of a 9 mile run 6/8/13 (photo courtesy of Austina Jordan)|
Need some more inspiration? Check out these other profiles of amazing women who gave running a chance!