Meet an Athlete: Allison
|October 4, 2013||Filled under Meet an Athlete, Running|
Motivation is a funny thing. For some of us, it comes naturally. For others, it’s the hardest thing in the world to find each day. For the rest of us, it’s a mixture of the two.
A lot of my motivation comes from the people in my life, those I see succeeding or working their butts off to accomplish something awesome. It’s inspiring. That’s why I wanted to feature someone on my blog this week for Fitness Friday who is inspiring in her motivation, and is just all around kick-ass.
Allison and I went to grad school together (Miami University [of Ohio], woot woot!) and continue to share interests in writing and reading, but unbeknownst to me, we also share an interest in running! I only found out after she started posting about her races on Facebook. How could I have missed this?! Turns out, awesome running peeps are all around me and I couldn’t feel more lucky about it.
So here she is — everyone, meet Allison!
Tell us about yourself.
Well, let’s see. My name is Allison. I’m the Director of Communication and Development for an anti-death penalty group in Ohio because the death penalty is the worst policy in this country. Sorry, can’t help getting on my soapbox a bit. Aaaaand what else…. I have a dog named Lemon, and two rats named Igor and Antoine. They’re all pretty rad.
What role has fitness played in your life?
Fitness is more or less my religion. I faithfully go to the gym 4-5 times a week and of course I do a lot of running. It’s my release, my space to contemplate and work through my problems, and it gets those lovely chemicals to sprout happiness in my brain furrows. Fitness has improved literally every aspect of my life, but I think most people will tell you that.
Describe that moment – that feeling – that made you decide to make a change in your life.
Well, I started playing sports when I was 5 years old. I was a very awkward child. I was an only child that grew up pretty isolated out in the country, so I had very little clue as to what was “cool”. That, and being a tall extrovert meant that my nerdiness was on full display all the time. However, sports allowed me to learn how to be in a social group and be somewhat normal– even though that didn’t really take hold until 7th or 8th grade.
In high school, I played 4 sports: cross country, basketball, swimming, and track. I was captain of the cross country team, but I have to say I didn’t really love running back then. I loved, loved, loved basketball.
Then, you know, college hit. There were spurts of activity here and there but my main exercise was walking to the uptown bars and back. I wish I were kidding. I developed a lot of bad habits including smoking (at one point, 2 packs a day!) which really limited my physical abilities. I went into college around 180 pounds and by junior year, was 260 pounds. I was in really awful shape. I remember feeling fat rolls forming on my back and I was just like, “This has gotta stop.” Not only that, I had gone back to being this isolated weird girl and I desperately wanted to have friends again. Getting active helped me accomplish that (again).
What changes did you make, big and small?
I stopped eating mayonnaise haha. And I stopped doing things like eating powdered sugar by the spoonful in the bathtub. And I started to cut back on smoking.
So, spoiler alert, I ended up losing 100+ pounds. It was really a two year journey where I lost two chunks (for lack of a better term) of weight, 40 pounds the first year, 60-ish the second.
So yeah, no magic answer. Just watched my calorie intake and started building my activity level. I started by walking more, taking the stairs, that kind of stuff…and now I run 10Ks for fun. Oh and eventually I completely stopped smoking– yay!
How has it affected your life now? What’s different?
Everything. It’s helped me control my depression and anxiety– conditions that have really limited me in the past in many ways. It’s helped me feel more confident, not only in how I look, but knowing that I can overcome obstacles. And sure, I’m proud of the way I look now versus the way I looked junior year of college.
What do you wish you had known about fitness and healthy living in the beginning?
I think one thing I recently realized is you don’t have to be part of a school team to be an athlete. In college, I felt like going to the gym was such a waste of time…what, I’m gonna do 30 crunches? Who cares? I really missed incorporating a level of competition into my fitness regimen. Signing up for races keeps me motivated to keep going back to the gym or to put in my weekly miles. I don’t want to perform poorly in a race!
I also think it’s really about making time for yourself and being honest about how you want to use that time. I used to think using personal time to go out and party was the best way to relieve stress. A 5-mile run at sunrise does a hell of a lot more.
How do you stay motivated?
Signing up for races is huge, but I gotta give a shout out to my coach– Eric! He’s also my boyfriend, but he really is a fantastic coach. He was an athlete in high school and likes to stay fit as well, so it’s nice that we have both of those things in common. Besides that, he’s this super duper smart med student with all this knowledge about muscles and stuff. That comes in handy!
We went on vacation in Gatlinberg over the summer and spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains. When we came back, we came up with the “Azzeric Fitness Challenge” to keep us both motivated to work out despite our busy schedules. We’ve been keeping it up since July 1!
What are your goals moving forward?
Man, there are a lot…I flirt with the idea of a marathon but I’m afraid I would injure myself. I would love to do a triathlon or Tough Mudder (I’m doing the TQL Urban Adventure Race in two weeks, which is like a teeny tiny Tough Mudder).
I guess my main goal is just to keep up with myself haha. I’ve done a pretty good job of improving myself and I just want to keep that ball rolling.
(And she just recently committed herself to a half marathon. Go Allison!)
Can you leave us with any final thoughts?
Yes! A few things…
1. If you hurt when you’re running, honestly assess the pain. Those of us who tend to over-achieve can sometimes push ourselves too hard and cause more injury. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a break.
2. Invest in yourself. I bought some running shoes from Amazon for around ~$70 and they were all right. Then my right foot started bothering me pretty badly– so badly, I thought I might have a stress fracture. I ended up going to Bob Roncker’s Running Spot, an AWESOME running store in Cincinnati, and they fitted me up with some kick-ass kicks. The catch? They were like $170 clams, BUT the foot pain totally went away. It’s worth the money to prevent injury and keep yourself moving!
3. Core. Work. Has. Helped. My. Running. So. Much.
Follower Allison on Twitter!
What races are you signed up for this fall running season?