The month of July is winding down, and we are approaching the end of the Sports Fan Journal Run Challenge. Each day passes, and the TSFJ Run Challenge participants continue to demonstrate extraordinary results. Several of the runners have already completed their challenges, and others are on the cusp of finishing what they started. The focal point of the challenge is to finish what you started. It doesn’t matter how many minutes you run a mile in or how many days you take off. All that matters is that you get the job done using whatever formula that works for you.
Over the past two weeks, we have profiled runners who have made a difference in their lives and the lives of others in areas of fitness, fandom and friendship. Today we profile another young lady who has made strides in fitness the past few months.
Stephanie F. from Cleveland, Ohio, by way of Kokomo, Indiana, has embraced running. She stared running as part of a weight-loss routine a couple of months ago. Turns out that Stephanie and I were in another 100-mile challenge group, and let’s just say, you would have never known that it was her first time running.
Every day her mileage was jumping off the charts. What she was putting up was quite impressive. She confessed to walking and jogging out the mileage to reach her goals. What is crazy is that Stephanie reached the 100-mile mark in 15 days in the month of June. That’s phenomenal. Now she has progressed as a runner. She can now run in spurts of three or more miles and has started training for 5K and 10K races.
Like most beginning runners, Stephanie had to overcome the number one obstacle that beginning runners face. People usually find a million reasons not to run. You hear many of them say “I am too old for this,” or, “I’m not built for this.” Stephanie’s saving grace was a strong will and finding a few virtual groups and actual groups to run with.
Many women start out running with groups that hold you accountable. Groups like “Black Girls Run” and “Moms Run This Town” are very supportive of runners who are moving from the couch to being active. Trust me when I tell you that it helps to have running partners when you start out. You have people to measure yourself against, and you get to push each other to be better.
Stephanie has discovered what many other runners and I have discovered about running and the body. Running is the optimal fat burner. Not only does it help you burn fat, but it helps you build confidence. You start to realize that when you push through fatigue and have success, you feel as if you can go a little harder and a little faster each time.
Running has been good to Stephanie in the weight-loss area as well. She has lost 30 pounds since she started training. Her goal of 45 pounds is almost accomplished, but she confesses that she is happy with her progress.
The addition of muscle and incorporating weight lifting has made a difference in shaping her body as well. I can attest to her loss so far. From the moment I met her to now, you can see a drastic difference in her photos on the Web. You can also see an improvement in her times as her goals of getting stronger and faster are evident.
“I surprise myself every step further I run," says Stephanie. "Running is done with the heart really. What motivates me is the challenge. I want to go further and faster every time I lace up. I've met some phenomenal people through running and virtual 5Ks. My goal is to run actual 5K and 10K races as my times improve.”
One thing is for sure — Stephanie has made a phenomenal change, and her drive is an inspiration to us all.
Results through July 29:
Color Commentator for Time Warner Cable Sports Network NC/SC/OH and NCCU Sports Network. Washed up athlete who used to ball, now I write and call.