Runspiration: Finding a Reason to Run

Melanie Miller hated running. In fact, she could only make it half way through a lap in high school before gasping for air and proclaiming she would NEVER be a runner. All that changed in the fall of 2011 when the Tinkerbell half marathon piqued her interested, specifically the race’s association with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. As a psychiatric nurse, she deals with suicide on a regular basis and that’s exactly where she found her runspiration—Melanie realized if she had a reason to run, she might hate it less.

“Someone I knew had taken his own life the year prior. I decided to run in his honor,” said Melanie.

She ran her first 5k in October with a goal of finishing in less than 45 minutes. She was in disbelief when she, the non-runner, completed the race in 38 minutes. But she still didn’t like running. The Couch to 5k program led her to Jeff Galloway’s run/walk intervals program, which she used to run her first 10k on Thanksgiving Day 2011.

“While there was nobody at the finish to see me do the impossible, or what I thought was the impossible, I knew my mom was there with me in spirit. She had passed away in 2009 and I always have her in my heart when I run,” said Melanie.

There were a lot of tears that day, but it sparked something small inside of her—the notion she could do things previously thought to be impossible for “someone like her.”

Impossible for “Someone Like Her”

Melanie used to weigh around 200 pounds and was very unkind to herself. Sitting on the couch eating junk food and drinking soda was more than a pastime, it was her life. She used her immune disorder and arthritis in both knees as an excuse to be lazy, masking the problems with handfuls of medication. But whatever sparked in her after that first 5k, changed her life forever.

She cleaned up her diet and dropped 65 pounds (and has maintained all but 10 pounds of that for over three years). Melanie said she is not depressed anymore, plus she feels and sleeps better. “I’m almost 43, but I feel better now than I did at 23.”

Though she is inspired by others greatly, Melanie also inspires herself. “I see where I was then and where I am now. It keeps me going. I keep doing these ‘things’ I never thought I could do, it makes me want to venture out further and further past my comfort zone.”

She also draws on a lot of inspiration from Caolan, her running coach who is there for her no matter. Caolan says, “We like to think we know things about ourselves. Those things are often what limit us.” In Melanie’s experience, this is 100% accurate.

“I just keep pushing. In the end, even though I started out running for others, I run these days for myself. I’ve had to make some choices recently regarding what direction I wanted to go and following my heart has been the best decision yet,” said Melanie.

Accomplishing the Impossible

In January 2012, Melanie not only celebrated 10 years of marriage, she also completed the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, nine minutes faster than her 3-hour goal!

“Every mile was in honor of someone,” says Melanie, “but the race was for John Jones, the young man who had committed suicide. It was a pleasure to run with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and I encourage everyone to run at least once in their life for a cause or foundation. It gives a different meaning to that finish line.”

Since then Melanie has completed more races than she can count and has become an avid trail runner, a type of running that presents a whole new level of challenge. Check back for part two of Melanie’s running story and find out how SparkleSkirts helps this incredible athlete.