One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


Running for the Rest of Us

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I didn’t start running until I was in my 30s. Finishing my first 5k just a few weeks shy of my 32 birthday with a time of 32:40.

Before then, I just assumed running was for athletes. Those special people born with natural speed and agility. Why would I ever enter a race when I don’t have a chance in hell of winning? Why would I bother humiliating myself? I’m not fast. I’m not an athlete. My body isn’t made for running. I’m not good at it —at least that’s what I was told when I was younger.

Yesterday I ran with and witness my 7 year old son cross the finish line of his first elementary school "cross country" race.

Running a race - finish line

He didn’t win.

He wasn’t even close to being the fastest.

Running a mile is hard for him –as it is for most people– but he did it and he enjoyed it. He pushed through those moments where his brain told him to stop. He kept running even though he saw his friends fly by him without needing a break to walk or moment to catch their breath.

I could tell he was a little disappointed. He’s not one of the naturally fast kids. Even though we talked about him probably not winning, it stung his hopeful young mind.

After the event we went out to dinner and talked about how exciting the meet was and how proud I was of him. Thats when I told him what I love about running.

When I enter an event I have no hopes of being the first to cross the finish line. I don’t think I’m going to win my age range or even come in the top 1/3 of finishers, but I’m not running to prove I’m the fastest. I’m running because it’s fun and challenging. I’m running because it keeps me in shape and gives me a much needed outlet. I’m running because I like to surround myself with energetic people who like to challenge themselves and live active lives.

I congratulated Ryan on his finish time of 10:14 and said,

"You know what my favorite part of running is?"

He looked at me curiously.

"My favorite part is trying to beat myself."

He crinkled his brow in confusion.

"You did awesome today. You ran a mile in 10 minutes and 14 seconds. Now next week you can try to run just a little bit faster."

His eyes lit up.

"You can try to beat yourself."

And I saw it.

I saw the spark.

All of sudden he didn’t seem solemn about not winning. Now he seemed excited and motivated about the prospect of beating himself and "winning" the next race.

I’m not a naturally talented athlete, and like most people, I’ll never be the first person to cross a finish line. I’m going to bet you won’t either, but running for the rest of us doesn’t have to mean being THE absolute best. All it requires is wanting to be OUR absolute best.

running for fun makes us happy!

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There are 50 comments so far.


    October 11, 2012

    That is awesome! I got a little teared up when I read about him getting excited about beating himself. What a way to motivate!


      October 11, 2012

      I had tears streaming down my face when I wrote it.


    October 11, 2012

    The person that got me into running said to me: “If I can run, anyone can run” and that struck a cord for me. In elementary and high school I was so unathletic, and our gym teachers (who, ironically were all overweight themselves) made me feel like dog doo doo when doing the timed mile run. So when that friend suggested I become her running partner in my late twenties I thought she was nuts. Now? 10 years, numerous 5ks, numerous 10ks and two half marathons later I look back and wish I had run through high school. Running has given me so much- better health, strong gams, and an inner peace. Everyone should have that.
    Thanks for sharing!

      Kristina Dietz-Nicholson

      October 11, 2012

      It’s sometimes just that one little thing isn’t it! Congrats! I’m in those similar shoes and how I tell myself “if so and so could see me now”.


    October 11, 2012

    Love it!


    October 11, 2012

    love this!! It made me tear up a bit.


      October 11, 2012

      I had tears streaming down my face when I wrote it.


    October 11, 2012

    Such an awesome moment for both of you. It gave me chills when he “got it”..the spark!


    October 11, 2012

    I absolutely LOVE this!! Thank you so much for sharing. :))

    Alexis {Diva on a Diet}

    October 11, 2012

    Soooo true!!! That is exactly why I run. Because I can, and I never thought I could. I still don’t consider myself athletic. And it’s kind of liberating to just do something to do it and not to worry about winning it, you know? So glad that your son can learn that now! What an awesome mom moment for you!


    October 11, 2012

    This is a great post!! Thank you, and congrats to your runner :)


    October 11, 2012

    Great really hit home with me.

    Kristina Dietz-Nicholson

    October 11, 2012

    I LOVE this post. I’m having this argument with my husband a lot lately because he’s naturally thin and a natural athlete. I fight for every step I take and i’m proud of every step I take and if i “can” beat my old time, great, but i’m not out there to win the race, my age group, or anything. I’m winning, because 18 months ago i “couldn’t” run and – yea – I’m running because i can now and i love it and every step that gets easier is a win.
    FYI – i am super proud of mr. husband… he started running in July and will run his first marathon in November. His goal is always to win and I know i’ll be sad for him when he doesn’t, at some point, because it sucks not meeting your goals – even if they are [in my mind] unrealistic.
    I’m super proud of Ryan… and everyone that sticks to it, especially when it’s not always easy, and it’s somethign that doesn’t come naturally.

    Shira Miller

    October 11, 2012

    What a lovely gift you gave Ryan, who also happens to be the most awesome name badge captain around. I have never been a natural athlete but every time I look at myself in the mirror during a cardio class or when lifting weights, the determination to beat my own records and results is always a great motivator. :)

    bbubblyb bbubblyb

    October 11, 2012

    Great post! WAY TO GO TO THE LITTLE GUY!!!! This made me want to tear up but also made me smile :) My nephew came to me with such anger and it was running that helped him the most through his high school years. It is about finding “your best”.


    October 11, 2012

    awww…this made me a little weepy! What a beautiful story and message you have given your son …and a nice reminder for the rest of us who will totally NEVER come in first- just happy to be breathing at the end of a race :-}

    Elisha Dew

    October 11, 2012

    That’s exactly the message I want to send to my daughter. Running isn’t about winning or being the fastest (though you can tell Ryan he’s faster than me!), for me it’s about doing something I never thought I could do, about proving that I am capable.


    October 11, 2012

    Thank you for this post, Roni! I am frustrated with my weight loss, but I do love my running. Like you, I’d never even thought it was something I could do. In part due to your inspiration, I finally tried the Couch 2 5K program last year. Today I ran 4.8 miles and thought it was “fun”. Your attitude and response is exactly what made me feel like I could do this, because it redefined my definition of “success”. And your son will take that same approach to it based on your guidance. You’re the best!


    October 11, 2012

    I needed to read this today. Thank you, Roni.

    Michele Hephner

    October 11, 2012

    I love this! Very timely – I am currently training for my second half marathon and did a ten mile run today. I always struggle when people ask me about my running because I am no means fast or a runner or whatever the typical stereotype is, but I love it. I love how it makes me feel, physically and mentally. You put into words what I’ve always felt but never been able to express. I think it’s awesome the example you are setting for your son. I have 3 children and I set these goals for myself in hope they will see their mom working hard to keep chasing her dreams! Anyway, thanks and I will refer people to this post next time I get tongue tied! :)

    Laura Hedrick Nicholson

    October 11, 2012

    What a wonderful conversation with your son. I’m all teary eyed. I can’t believe he’s 7 already.

    Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.

    October 11, 2012

    I love this. As a special ed teacher, this is a lesson I want my students to learn. They’re constantly comparing themselves to their peers. How others can learn faster. How others can read better. How things just come more naturally to other people. But I want them to be able to see that it’s just being proud of themselves for seeing progress as an individual. I love that. Thanks for sharing =)

    Sondra Brown

    October 11, 2012

    Way to go Ryan! And Mom too! I wish my P.E. teachers would have taught this message, I might have loved sports in school with the right motivation.
    You are definitely setting him up for success, look at the smile on his face- priceless!


    October 11, 2012

    Thanks for this Roni . . . a great lesson that I, too, can share with my kids. Its definitely a lesson that I need to learn as a runner and a crossfitter (where competition tends to get out of hand). I’ve been feeling down that I don’t run the fastest, can’t do the most pulls ups, can lift the most weight, can climb the rope the fastest . . . but you know what? I’m doing it and I can get better every time. A few years ago I wasn’t doing any of that. A good lesson for me today.

    Angela G.

    October 11, 2012



    October 11, 2012

    What an incredible story. I don’t think I’ve ever cried this much while reading one of your posts and I don’t even have children. I do, however, teach teenagers and the pressure that I see them get sometimes to compete, be the ‘best’, get into the Ivy schools, get a ‘good’ sports scholarship, etc. really scares me.

    Jody R. Goldenfield

    October 11, 2012

    Says it all!!!!!


    October 11, 2012

    Wahoo! Ryan! Oh, and you totally run faster than me, kiddo.


    October 11, 2012

    Roni, it is so awesome to see that spark in your child’s eye. What an awesome way to make him feel great.
    I am 36, almost 37, I just ran my first 5K last weekend. I decided in June that I was going to run, why not. I have to say that it wonderful to run just for me. I have been reading running blogs, and I like them, but the women are super humans. They give birth and run the next day at a pace of sub 7minutes and have been running up to delivery 50 miles a week, what?! I can not relate. I was so excited about my time of 28:25 for the 5K, best running time for me. I have a 10k in 3 plus week, excited and nerves.

    Fat Loss Joe

    October 11, 2012

    Great Post. I’m running in my first 5k shortly and I’m really enjoying the competing with yourself aspect of the sport.


    October 11, 2012

    Excellent point! Thanks for pointing it out for all of us.

    Alicia Hansen

    October 11, 2012

    LOVE this. You’re one hell of a mom. Thank you for sharing this personal family moment.

    Cheryl Palen

    October 11, 2012

    But it’s so great to come in first too! :0)

    Mandi Conner

    October 11, 2012

    I have tears in my eyes! a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing….and making me remember why I run.


    October 11, 2012

    Thank you and Ryan for sharing this very special story.


    October 12, 2012

    I am going to cry now. This is so true – and it’s so special to find that spark. That’s what I do now. I compete with myself (within limits). I swim sidestroke and I am slow, but I get faster and better all the time. Yesterday, I actually CRUSHED my own goal in that department when I swam 1300 meters in 36 minutes without a single break!! My goal had been to be able to do 500 meters without a break and I thought I might shoot at december for that. I am still on a high about this. I did that. Alone. Stubbornly kept swimming even if it was so hard at the beginning. Now I really enjoy it – and it does a world of good for my back ;)
    Please tell Ryan I am proud of him – that was fantastic work!


    October 12, 2012

    Absolutely loved this post!! Great job Roni :)


    October 12, 2012

    I seriously cried. YOU, Lady, are a GREAT mom!
    I’m going to do my first 5k in Dec. (Color Run) with my two teenage daughters. I won’t be fast, but I will finish. A year ago it would have been physically impossible. Beating oneself is the only victory that matters!!
    Great post. :)


    October 12, 2012

    I am so proud of the both of you. Way to go grandson, you are the best.

    Sheri J

    October 12, 2012

    Wow! What a great post. You and Ryan are such a team. I really miss him being on your GLB vids. Wish you could talk him into doing another one with you.


      October 12, 2012

      We were just talking about one te other day!


    October 12, 2012



    October 13, 2012

    I absolutely love this post!!!


    October 15, 2012

    What a truly beautiful legacy and life lesson to pass onto your son. Just run your own race. It’s important that you run. How I wish I could have been taught this as a child! Instead I was encouraged to run to lose weight :(


    October 15, 2012

    Wow! Roni, you made me tear up!

    Julie J.

    October 15, 2012

    So inspiring, Roni. Thanks for the advice, I will try it on my son!


    October 16, 2012

    High Five to the kiddo! And what a special bond you both will share!!

    Connie DeLeon

    October 19, 2012

    I love your posts, you are such an inspiration and a wonderful mom! I needed to read and see this today, thanks!

    Darcy B

    October 4, 2013

    That is THE BEST ever! I am not a competitive person by nature, since beating someone else is like apples and oranges. I love besting myself too and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are so interested in teaching your kids stuff you learned as an adult. Makes me want to have kids just to do it too! Nice goin’!

    Katie @ Runs for Cookies

    October 2, 2014

    I love love love this post! I’m going through this with my son right now, too. He’s 10, and just started cross country this year. He’s always in the very back of the pack, and I’ve told him to just try to “beat himself”, as you said. I’m just really proud that he keeps trying instead of giving up!