My Running Journey: From Feeling Scared to Enjoying the Process

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

By: Sarah Jackson, Charm City Run Columbia Training Group Member (since December 2021)

I’ve been morbidly obese most of my life. Today, hovering around 245 pounds, I am simply obese.  Yet I am grateful for that small step in the right direction.  In 2017, I gave up the idea that I would be like this forever and started the process to undergo weight loss surgery, RNY gastric bypass.  Within the next three years, I lost a hundred and twenty five pounds.  Yay!  Then COVID hit.  I gained back 50 pounds.  Not so yay.

My bariatric program includes a support group on Facebook.  Several of my fellow losers would post about their run training for various races.  They even had a weekly meet up to walk a 5K.  I decided to join one of the walks.  I met lovely people.  Lovely inspiring people.  Now, all my life, I had wanted to be able to run.  I don’t know why, I just did. Here was a group of people, just like me, who ran.  I walked with them for a year, but never got the courage to start running.  I wanted to, but I felt embarrassed and weak.  I so badly wanted to run though.

One of my fellow support group members mentioned Charm City Run’s Training Groups.  I had already shopped at Charm City Run online to get good running shoes, so I was halfway there.  I saw a winter training group for a 5K in Columbia.  Scared as I could be, I signed up.  I had never run before, but the information online said walkers were welcome.

I arrived at the first training session, shaking in my shoes, just so sure I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.  I was definitely the largest person there, but no one laughed.  We gave introductions and our running background.  Many others were already runners and were just getting back into running. I stated that I had never run before in my life.  No one laughed.  All were encouraging.

That first run luckily started downhill.  I think I ran for 15 seconds.   Then I walked.  Then I tried running some more.  Another 10 seconds.  Then I walked.  Then I ran some more.  However many seconds.  Then we turned around and it was all uphill to get back to the store.  I nearly died.  I was gasping for breath, not able to talk, and barely surviving even though I was only walking.  The coach, Amy (I’m totally part of the Amy fan club), walked with me, encouraging me and telling me I was faster than the couch, and look what I was doing when 90% of the people in the world were still in bed sleeping.  As I feared, I was the last person back.  No one laughed.  No one was impatient.

I remained the last person arriving back for nearly a year.  I didn’t mind so much, because I got cheers when I did arrive.  (Runners are lovely people.)   I’m proud of myself for how hard I try.  I am doing something I never thought I’d be able to do.  Whenever I hit a new milestone or PR, I have people telling me good job.  We encourage each other, no matter where we are in our running journey.  We are all proud of each other.  My coach gave me a note, praising me for how hard I worked, and that she liked coaching people with my attitude.  I display that note on my medal rack.  My medal rack is getting full.

It’s been over a year, and I can almost reliably run a mile without having to walk (assuming no uphills).  I’m still incredibly slow, but as Amy says, I’m faster than the couch.  I’ll take that.  My goal is to run a 5K without walking.  It might take me years.  That’s fine.  I’m enjoying the process.

Yes, I am obese.  Yes, I am a runner.


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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