A Runners Spirit

By Melissa Peek Burton

When I got out of the Marine Corps in 1995, I swore I’d never run again. My knees would ache for days after a run. It just wasn’t worth it.

My sedentary lifestyle caught up with me and I gained a lot of weight. I was miserable inside and out. I knew I had to do something. In 2006, I started taking a “boot camp” program and lost some weight. The instructor was the perfect combination of tough and compassion. I didn’t need all the hard nosed discipline, I just needed accountability to show up.

Jen, the instructor, was good at her job. She also ran half marathons “for fun.” I would heckle her as she would tell us about her races. She would make me “pay” for it. It was all in good fun.

Three years ago, I read a marathon race report on a Walt Disney World website by a woman who made a marathon sound like “fun.” She inspired a whole lot of others to do it, and guess what… they did.

Life changes happened, divorce, single parenting, etc., but I had stopped with the boot camp exercise program. (They had a change of time and instructors and it just didn’t work anymore.) I knew I needed a change physically, something just for me.

On April 1st, 2009, I started “No Boundaries,” a couch to 5k program through Fleet Feet Sports. When I started the program, I already had my eyes set on my first half marathon 5 months later. I “knew” I could do it because the 5k program ended with a long run of 3.75 miles. The half marathon training program started two weeks later with a 4 mile run. Piece of cake.

It still hurt when I ran so I had went to my regular MD and to my chiropractor. My MD said I needed knee surgery (NO WAY!) and my chiropractor told me I shouldn’t be running. It was bad for my knees. Stopping training was not an option, so I pressed on through the pain.

Through Fleet Feet, I met a chiropractor who made my pain while running go away using a technique called “Active Release Technique.” I now run virtually pain free, although, I’m a little achy during the first three miles of a run. By mile 4, I feel great and just lose track of the miles.

To make a long story short, since April 1st, 2009, I’ve lost over 40lbs, trained for and ran one marathon (Marine Corps Marathon, October 31st, 2010), 6 half marathons, 4 10ks, a 5 mile race, and numerous 5ks. I don’t keep track of 5k’s and honestly, I try to avoid them. My favorite distance is a half marathon.

Read about My First Marathon

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3