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!


Getting in Shape Without Shame


I don’t feel at peace in my own skin.

Sometimes I’m hyper-focused on my (perceived) flaws and can’t seem to snap myself out of it. 

I can’t be fully present in the moment because I’m worried about whether my stomach is sticking out or if my cellulite is showing. 

I wish I exercised more frequently or made more balanced food choices, but I haven’t been able to stick with a healthy routine. 

Sound familiar?

It sure does to me. 

At one point in my life, I identified with these thoughts at least several times a day. 

At first, my pursuit of a healthy life was not, in fact, grounded in healthy desires. I had many body-focused demons to overcome before I could engage in a sustainably active and balanced lifestyle.  And unfortunately, I’m not the only one.

I’m just going to come out and say it: There is a bit of a dark side to the fitness industry. Many fitness professionals and enthusiasts put forth a message that is focused on physical appearance and aesthetics above all.   They try to capitalize on the vulnerability of women by inferring (or outright telling them) they need to be fixed.  This concept is reinforced by “fitspo” images of barely dressed women flaunting the “ideal” body type, by fitness instructors chanting that students should “think about how your butt is going to look,” and by truisms reciting that changing your body is just a matter of willpower. 

One of the fitness truisms I’ve come across many times is: “Think about why you started.”  The problem is most people are starting from the wrong place—a place fueled by self-loathing and focused on shallow results.

Don’t get me wrong — there is nothing inherently bad about appreciating the physical results of hard, healthy work. The problem arises when this is the primary motivator behind a love of fitness. The incentives are skewed, increasing the danger of unhealthy and disordered habits forming.

Given my own demons, I went through brief periods of pursuing fitness or altering my diet that were driven by vanity. In a past life, I tried working out because I wanted to “look good” (as defined by mainstream society). I dieted. I experienced disordered eating and a VERY negative body image. I compared myself to others. I internalized the “ideal” flouted by the media.

I was miserable.

And, in the end, I gave up. Every time. The pursuit of fitness motivated solely by physical appearance is largely unsustainable. It is a shallow motivator. It does not get to the core of why we do what we do.

Now, I want to run a little farther or faster than I did last time.

I want to pick up something heavier than I could manage before, or hold a pose that I once couldn’t sustain without shaking.

I want to feel boundless energy and the ability to conquer new things.

Today, I am driven to exercise by the appreciable benefits an active lifestyle brings to various facets of my life. For example, being active gives me more energy, helps me focus, and empowers me to achieve goals I never thought were within my reach. Before, I felt like I was going through life tired all the time. Now, I am energized by challenge and growth.

Sure, I also want to feel confident in a bathing suit.  But that confidence comes from within.

I became a wellness coach and personal trainer largely because I believe in an approach to exercise and eating that starts from a place of wholeness, not a place of inadequacy.  I believe we should seek healthy habits because we believe we are worthy of living our best lives, not because we already feel we are less than enough.  We shouldn’t be looking at our bodies as objects that need to be fixed, but rather as wonderful vehicles capable of doing great things.

It’s time to move beyond vanity-motivated fitness. It’s time to focus on wellness instead of our waistlines. And it’s time to be motivated by support, not shame.

Want to learn more about how I can best support you? Let’s find some time to chat! Click here to book a FREE 30-minute Discovery Call with me.