How I Went From Couch Potato To Marathon Runner (And You Can, Too!)

Trust the process: my couch to marathon story.

It was a little bit of boredom; there was some loneliness in there, too. But mostly it was a startling realization that got me running:

If there ever came a time I needed to run for my life, I probably wouldn’t make it … YIKES!

A dark thought, for sure, but a natural one, given I had just moved hundreds of miles from home to a town where I didn’t know a soul. Regardless of why I thought it, it was a spark. And it was what I needed to get moving.

To be clear, I am not a natural athlete.

Growing up, I was the type of kid that hated—I mean, HATED—gym class. I was impossibly uncoordinated, and I had asthma that caused me to cough until I puked. Needless to say, I was picked dead last for nearly every team.

But, as I got older, I really wanted to be more athletic. I envied others who played sports or went to the gym, earning able bodies and lungs that didn’t feel like they might explode going up a flight of stairs.

So I joined the high school track team. And I. Was. TERRIBLE.

I stubbornly stuck it out the whole season, ending each embarrassing race several paces behind all the other runners. But after that season, I never went back. I decided I wasn’t built for “sports.” Even so, I thought I could go to the gym and get in shape! That’s what most people do, right?

I couldn’t get into that either. I saw the gym only once every blue moon. I would hop on the elliptical or treadmill for 20 minutes out of a sense of obligation, motivated only by a vague desire to “burn off” whatever I ate that day. But I dreaded it. Eventually, I just made peace with my sedentary existence. For years, I did little to no physical activity.

That is, until that moment when I realized I probably couldn’t run to save my own life. (Literally.) 

Now, I didn’t acquire a lot of street smarts growing up in the ‘burbs in Ohio, but I lived in New York City for a few years and gained a bit of know-how. But in NYC, I was used to being around other people all the time. Now, my new apartment (where I lived alone) was a few blocks from any major thoroughfare. One night that seemed particularly dark and creepy, I wondered what would happen if I need to make a dash for my door (sadly, as a woman, you have to think about these things). That train of thought didn't end well.... 

I knew it was time for a change.

I did some research on running and took a leap. Even though I had never moved more than a mile outside of a vehicle with an engine, I signed up for a 5K race. Admittedly, I was largely motivated by the promised beer garden at the finish line. Still, it felt like a big deal.

For the first few weeks of my training, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I feared this endeavor would end up like all my past physical pursuits—with me feeling like a failure.  

Until one day, it hit me: I had improved. I could run for more than 30 seconds! After consistent and gradual practice, my progress started to become more and more apparent. Almost as if it had never been difficult before, I could run for one mile. Then two. Then three.

And then I was running on race day—sailing into that beer garden at the finish line like it was the promised land.

Woo, where's my beer??  [My first 5K race]

Woo, where's my beer??  [My first 5K race]


Perhaps the most remarkable part of this journey was that I actually started to like running. I discovered that running can be cathartic. And meditative. And a celebration of being alive. At some unceremonious juncture, I stopped viewing running as a means to an end, but as an end in itself.  

So, I took on a 10K. Then a half marathon. Then another half marathon. And ultimately, the New York City Marathon.  

New York City Marathon

At an indiscernible moment, after continually putting one foot in front of the other, I—the self-professed non-athlete who formerly spent more time running into things than running anywhere—became a runner.

Of course, there were times during my training that I got off track. I loved french fries and wine, and some mornings it felt physically painful to get out of bed. But, I fought discouragement and the desire to give up. I realized I didn’t have to be a teetotalling vegan who springs out of bed singing at 5 AM to make a fitness transformation.

I still love french fries and I still love wine (and sometimes I still run into things), but I’m also an RRCA-certified running coach and I specialize in working with individuals who want to develop a new running habit, like I did, or those desiring to take an inconsistent running routine to the next level. I’m here to help you keep going—because if I can go from a couch potato to a marathon runner, I believe you can too.

You just might be shocked by the transformation you see. :)

Are you ready to start your personal fitness transformation? I’d love to support you on your way. Click here to schedule a FREE 30-minute Discovery Call with me, and let’s get started!