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12 Inspirational Stories to Get You Off Your Butt

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By Christine Ardigo MSRD

Running, Biking, Swimming, so Many Races to Try! I’ve written many posts on weightlifting, my true love and passion for many reasons, like here and here and here. But cardio is just as important for our lungs and heart, therefore I dedicate this wonderful post to all of you that get out there and do it and to hopefully inspire those of you that don’t.

I ran three 5k races several years ago and loved the excitement surrounding the races. I completed a Spartan Race in April and a Mudd Run with my daughter in June. But to really inspire you, I am lucky enough to have 12 amazing people in my life that want to share their stories with you. Why they started entering races, what they felt like while training, and of course, what it felt like to complete a race. Without further ado, here are their stories. I hope it motivates you and moves you as much as it did me.                                                      


#1 LYNN  – New Runner lynnH

I am a registered dietitian and I am always instructing patients on how to eat healthier and encourage them to be more active. But a year ago, if you would have asked me to run, I probably would have laughed and said no way, but recently I have entered into the running world and love it! Over the summer, despite eating well, I didn’t feel my best and I realized that I wasn’t always taking the “be more active” advice. I needed to be true to myself and take care of me the way I was teaching others to take care of themselves. This was important for me and my family. I’m only a beginner but the support of family and friends, and the feeling I get after a run, motivates me to continue being a part of a running community.

My inspiration came from a good friend of mine: her name is Jennifer. She’s been running and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and encouraged me to run along with her and her friends. They’re a great support system. It’s important to spend time with positive people that bring out the best in you, and provide encouragement and support. You should do the same for them!

In September I walked through most of my first 5K which was the Color Run. I can honestly say the event itself, the people around me and those I participated in the event with, are the reasons I trained to run most of my second 5K in October, which was the Diva Run. The sounds, the looks of determination, the smiles on everyone’s faces as they participated in the race gave me the confidence to cross the finish line and continue to be part of the running world. A good friend of mine said, “Be careful, once you start running it can become addicting.” Well he was right! I’m really enjoying it.

I will be doing a Jingle Bell Run in December. Again, if you would have asked me a year ago to run in the cold, I would have laughed even harder and said absolutely NO WAY! You see, simply doing something you never thought you would ever do is quite an accomplishment and gives you a great deal of confidence. You are helping yourself become healthier both physically and emotionally. Who knows maybe I will switch it up a bit too. I have always wanted to join a dance class. I remember really enjoying it as a kid. I still give the same advice to be more active, but now I add, “Be the best you can be!”

#2 ERIK – Ironman RaceerikF

I became active with Triathlons when my Grandfather started getting really sick. I was a care giver for him for 8 years, and spent my time assisting his daily living needs. A difficult position to be in with an Elder Family member. When things became difficult, I would disappear into the woods to Mountain Bike. There was something about getting away from it all that seemed to lower my stress level. An afternoon in the woods, working out with friends, while admiring the beauty of the land was where I slowly transitioned back into Running. I grew up running, and even was the Captain of my Cross Country Team in High School. So, I was familiar with the joys and challenges of running. It was just 15 years later, this past August, after a couple of years of training, (or better yet, a couple years of hanging out with my friends while working out), that I attempted a Half IRONMAN. And to be honest, it was miserable!

At least that was what I thought when I collapsed after crossing the finish line of the 70.3 mile race. I believe my words were, ‘NEVER AGAIN.’ I battled cramps right out of the water (a 1.2 mile swim), and collapsed off my bike 5 miles in on a 56 mile bike segment. The run, which for me, was a fast walk, as my legs couldn’t open to full stride was the most humbling (13.1 miles). Why didn’t you stop? That’s a good question. I told myself that no matter what, I was going to finish the race. Now mind you, I trained, I was a good athlete in the past, and I had the right equipment/food I needed to achieve my goal. It was a long and brutal 7-plus hours of not quitting. I told myself over and over again that the mind is stronger than the body. And added a saying that is in the IronMan world, ‘Embrace the SUCK!’ – Chris McCormack, Pro Triathlete.

Though I walked the majority of the Run, and was passed by all… young, old, short, tall, skinny, husky, male and female, I finished. And though it hurt like HELL that afternoon, and though I could barely walk after the race, I was elated at my accomplishment. No I didn’t win, I didn’t even do well during the race, but I FINISHED.

So, with all these words you have read, my point is, yes working out is tough. Yes, competing is tough. But, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. After training, I looked around and was now part of a team of athletes, who became my close friends. I also traveled and saw many things I would have never done if I wasn’t involved in these activities. But most importantly, I was healthier and my mind was more clear and at peace.

My final words: Working out or being active is not a competition against other people, it is not something used to become a cover girl on some magazine, and it isn’t something you do because you have extra time or money. You have to understand that any form of working out is a competition against yourself. If you can remember that, YOU ALWAYS WIN!

#3 Anna – Full Marathons OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Running is my thing.  It is my routine in the morning, as is brushing my teeth.  Eleven years ago when I headed out my front door to attempt my first run, I made it halfway down my block and back.  My lungs were burning, my mouth tasted of copper and I felt woozy.  Six years to that day, I completed the 2008 NYC Full Marathon at the age of 21.

Today I make running a part of my morning.  It’s a place I can count on every day.  Not to mention how beautiful it is to watch the seasons change.  My advice to people who want to start running is start, and never stop!  The key word here is want.  You will find yourself barely able to jog down the road at first, and then soon, you’ll be completing your first 10K Race painlessly. Good luck and happy trails!

#4 SueLosing Weight with her DaughterSUSAN

All my life, weight loss has been a struggle.  For me, there are no short cuts and there’s no easy way out.  I need to eat healthy and cardio is an essential part of my journey.  After losing some weight this past spring, I decided it was time to pump up the cardio and start burning some serious calories.  I wanted to challenge myself and try something new.  Something I never thought I could accomplish.  I decided to take up running. I signed up for an 8 week course, taking small steps towards building up the endurance necessary to complete a 5k Race.

The first day of the class was one of the hottest of the summer and running for thirty seconds with one minute walks in between was torturous.  But the trainer was a true inspiration, I made new friends and together we vowed to run our first 5k scheduled 8 weeks after the training session ended.  I was determined to prove to myself – and only myself – that I could do this. As slow as I ran, as long as it took, my goal was simply to finish the race without stopping.  I made the commitment and there was no turning back.  Throughout my training, my youngest daughter took to the pavement with me and gave me constant inspiration.  She pushed me and kept me going even when I wanted to give up and I cherished our new found quality time together.

The day of the race was a beautiful, early fall morning and it was wonderful to be reunited with the folks in my training group.  At the starting line, the trainer said she was running with me because, she said, I showed such determination and never gave up.  What a compliment!  It was then that I knew I could do this….and I did!  As the end of the run drew near, I spotted my husband and two daughters cheering me on and waving banners that they made for me.  My girls started to run alongside me and as I approached the finish line, complete strangers were cheering me on as Foreigner’s “Don’t Stop Believing” was blasting through the speakers!  What a moment!

Crossing the finish line was a phenomenal experience and it’s that feeling that I continue to tap into as I push myself a little further each week.  I’ve proven to myself that small steps go a long way towards accomplishing anything I set my mind to and, more importantly, I’ve become a role model to my kids.  After the first race, my little trainer and I joined two more races together and we’re planning more to come.  It’s quality time that can’t be replaced and a sense of accomplishment that can’t be compared.  I can think of no better gift to give not only my children, but to myself.

#5 Rene – Running with her Whole FamilyRenee1

In 2005, I was working nights as a Licensed Practical Nurse. One morning, I looked in the mirror and didn’t even realize it was me looking back in the mirror. “Holy S*&T, when did I get so flabby” was all I thought!! I’ve always been athletic, playing soccer and softball were my main sports, never long distance running, but that day, it was decided. I was getting on the track no matter what, and so I did. I couldn’t even finish a mile, but little by little, I was seeing muscles that I had not seen in a long time. I became leaner and more energetic. The freedom and euphoria (also known as a runners high) was so intoxicating that I wanted it more and more. Before I knew it, I was addicted. I loved running, something that I couldn’t say before.

My first race was the Flying Point 10K in Flying Point, Southampton. The energy that was in the air was incredible.  Everyone was so pumped and ready to go that I too took on that “WooHooo” attitude as well. The air horn sounded and the rest was history! Every race there after was just as great. The best part is that everyone at the race is there because they want to be, not because they have too. The sense of accomplishment when you finish is overwhelming, especially after a long race like a half marathon.

Now, I’m a mom of two beautiful boys, 27 months and a 1 year old. I take them to the races with me and have even jogged with them pushing a double jogging stroller!  I want them to have as much fun as I do in the race. Now I’m running with purpose. I can’t let my boys down and quit during a race. They motivate me and make me a stronger runner! 🙂

#6 Colleen  – Bikingcoll

I love bike riding. I tried running. Boy, did I try running. I ran on a treadmill. I ran by myself. I ran with friends. I ran to find the the wonderful rush my running friends raved about.  The problem was I hated it.  No matter how much I tried, running was not for me.
Then in 2010 a friend created a bike team for the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure.  She asked me to ride with the team. What made the invitation so wonderful was we are all Registered Dietitians, Certified Diabetes Educators, all have Type 1 diabetes and all wear insulin pumps. We are called The Pumping Professionals. I trained for 6 months because we were going to ride 15 miles. I borrowed my niece’s mountain bike.  I loved riding the bike.  It took me almost 3 hours to complete the course. I had a wonderful person encouraging me during the last half of the ride.  I crossed the finish line to hooping and hollering.  I made it. I cried. I cheered. I felt like I could take on the world.
I loved riding the bike so much I bought a beautiful touring bike that summer and have completed two 20 mile Tour de Cures since that day.  I am planning the 40 mile course in 2014 to celebrate 33 years with Type 1 diabetes and turning 62 years old.  I often ride in the park and clock 16 miles because I love it so much. Imagine having fun and exercising at the same time. Strengthening my core, great lower body workout, cardiovascular and wind in my face. Oh wait, I found my rush!
#7 Rama – Full Marathons in Various CountriesRAMA!!

In July 2006, I received a letter in the mail about a 5K in my neighborhood to benefit the Children’s Cancer Fund. I said to myself: why cant I run to benefit a good cause? Little did I realize, it would change my whole life.  Initially it was hard to run even a mile. I would keep saying…okay its almost over. I finished the 5K really slow, but it boosted my self-esteem.Then I heard someone at work talking about a marathon, so I said..why not me? I decided I would run the Long Island Marathon the following year.

Growing up in India, I was raised very conservatively and was not allowed to do outside sports. So I needed to start from scratch. I looked in magazines, for online articles, and took advice from friends.  And finished the marathon! I didnt matter how slow I was. It was something I accomplished on my own. This gave me new meaning to my life. It was something that broke the monotony of my daily life. I decided to try running a marathon every year. I traveled to different countries and ran marathons in Geneva, Amsterdam,  and Barcelona. I learnt a lot about other cultures and traditions.

In 2011 I lost my dad to Colorectal cancer. His positive attitude toward life and his struggles until the very end gave me new strength and courage. Now I run a marathon every October in his memory. In my training, whenever I feel like quitting, I think of him and it gives me great strength. Today I am 43 yrs old, with 2 kids ages 11 and 14 yrs. I have a full time job, yet running has changed me in every way possible. It does not matter how slow or fast I run. When I step outside, its me, my heart and the nature that follows me. The sun follows me during most of my running days. I get rid of the unwanted thoughts on my mind during my run. I come home re-freshed to my family. I love the support my husband and kids give me too. At the end of each race, my kids hug me and say…Mom you are a winner to us! That is all I need.

I love my rice and beans! I sometimes joke that I run so that I can eat what I want. Even on days, when my body says its too tired to set out, I am out there, with the mere support of my mind and soul. No one can tell me what to do or where to go or how long to go. It’s a part of my daily lifestyle now. I am proud to call myself a RUNNER!!

#8 Chris – Ran With his Dad, Now With his SonsCHRIS I

have had a lifelong love affair with running. It started years ago when I was about ten years old, running with my father and his friends. He was training for a half-marathon and asked if I wanted to come along. After my first run with him, I was hooked. I’ve run all distances from mile sprints to full marathons and everything in between. And the one constant through all these years that keeps me running and loving it is the inner peace and tranquility I experience when I run. My mind and body relax and I get into a very meditative state when I’m running.

As for racing, I used to go for personal records at every race and that’s what excited me at the finish line…continuously getting better and improving. But these days, I’ve been running and racing with my two sons who are 7 and 10 years old. It gives me so much joy to share my love of running with them and see them get so excited to finish 5 and 10K’s together. So I guess this love affair will live on for quite a while longer.

#9 Denise – Ran the Marine Corps Marathon, Inspired by her Brotherdenise1

When I was younger, I used to love working out in a gym. But then life took over. Between nursing school, getting married and having children, my exercise regimen was put on the back burner for many years. My  brother in law, a former marine, ran the Marine Corps Marathon.  It motivated me to get back into exercising and I signed up for the 2012 marathon.

Unfortunately, one month before the race, I hurt myself and was unable to run.  I was devastated.  All that hard work, for what?  I went to the race anyway as a spectator. Little did I know, just watching the race inspired me. I was taken back by these service men and women racing in their wheelchairs with no limbs!  And the smiles on their faces as they rode by were priceless. So I registered for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon and started training as soon as my injury healed.

This October, I completed my first Marathon at the age of 43.  It took a lot of commitment and hard work, but it was worth every moment of it. Running is truly my therapy. It is an outlet and a great stress relief. When I first started in 2012, I couldn’t run a mile and some days, even now, I feel like I can barely run three.  This is what makes running so great. It challenges you, and will always challenge you.

#10 Kasey – Signing Up for One After Another – Endorphins! kasey1

I haven’t always been into running. I got into it 3 years ago because I wanted to start living a healthier lifestyle. I smoked and wanted to quit, but knew I needed a distraction and something else to focus on. What better than running? I started off running a little here and there nothing too serious. I decided after a little while to sign up for my first race ever: a half marathon! I followed a training program for about three months and after I completed my race I was hooked!

Since then I ran two full marathons, several half marathons, and multiple 10Ks, and 5Ks. I ran twenty separate races in 2013 with October my toughest: four races in one month including a half marathon and the NYC Full Marathon. Last month I ran six 5K’s, sometimes running two in one weekend. I have run in temps as high as 95 and as low as 23 degrees.

Running became part of my life and has changed me into a more positive person. It gives me peace and is a great way to release stress. There is no better feeling than running past the finish line. Also, the running world is a very supportive world. People cheer you on whether you run a 5 minute mile or a 15 minute one. It’s become one of my favorite things to do and I love getting friends and family and strangers involved in it!

#11 Cristina – Triathlonssquare

I Tri. I don’t try. I do. I do Triathlons. I did my first triathlon to mark my 30th birthday. But, truth be told, my first love isn’t triathlon. It’s running. I started running when I was 16. I completed the presidential fitness test in 11th grade and part of it was running six times around the track. The gym teacher seemed very satisfied with my performance, and I was stunned I could even do it! I’d never been an active athletic kid, and I had always been chubby and not very fit. If I could run 1.5 miles just like that, maybe I could do more! So I joined the cross country team. As far as momentous decisions go, this was one of the biggest ones I’ve ever made. Nothing has defined me more, driven me or inspired me, more than running.

Over the years, I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with running. First was the Honeymoon Phase, when I kept improving by leaps and bounds. Then came the Long Term Commitment. I settled into running as a lifestyle. After the initial improvements, there were long periods of plateau, and I wasn’t as motivated. And then came the Long Hard Separation. I aggravated an old back injury, I wasn’t able to recover from my last race, and my injury got worse. Eventually, my down time from running went from a few months, to a year, to a few years. But I always wanted to get back to running.

I started doing Pilates, and this time, when I started running again my back didn’t flare up! I built up slowly, from run/walking, to straight running, and kept it up for over a year! My 40th birthday approached. Then I got an idea – what if I marked this milestone with another triathlon, like I’d done for my 30th? A few other friends signed up for The West Point Sprint Triathlon, and I figured, why not? I know I can finish it. At this point, my time wasn’t as important as getting through it.

On race day, the participants were allowed to warm up in the small lake, something I hadn’t done the first time around. When I got in the water, it was warm. And after a few laps, my nerves diminished, and I realized the swim was going to be okay. When the race started, I kept to the back of the pack, knowing I would be one of the slower swimmers in the pack. Coming around the first buoy, I thought, wow, I think I’m gonna make it. And then, after I passed the second buoy and the finish line was straight ahead, I knew I’d make it! When I finally finished and got out of the water, I was elated!

Even though I knew the rest of the race would be challenging because of the hills, it didn’t matter. I could handle biking and running on the hills. The bike portion was tough. There were a few hills that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do without stopping, but I made it through. And then came the run. I was more apprehensive, because of my back, but I listened to my body, took it as easy as was necessary to not hurt myself, and accepted the final challenge. Coming up to the finish line on a slight hill, I saw my wonderful supportive husband cheering me on, my parents, my brother and his wife with their young children, all who had come to support me. The feeling was indescribable, I was on top of the world. I was about to turn 40, doing what I loved, and surrounded by people I loved who loved and supported me. Yes, I cried when I crossed the finish line. I was thrilled!

#12 Andrea – Motivational Walker, Soon to be an Inspirational RunnerA square

Over the past few years I always said I wanted to be a runner . I listen to peoples stories, read their Facebook status and I’m in awe of the thrill they get from running. I wanted that too! I have never been a runner, actually I always hated running. Growing up I played soccer at an elite level. I was a competitive athlete who trained with the best, played with the best, and I guess was one of the best. Playing soccer all we did was run but, there was a purpose to it. Get the ball, defend the goal, and to score. Running is what we did when we trained, or when we did something wrong, we did not run for pleasure.

In 2011 a best friend from High school lost her husband to colon cancer. In 2013 she started a 5K in Richmond, Virginia to honor her husband and to raise money for colon cancer awareness. I thought what better first 5K then this? I enlisted some close friends from HS to come and join me for the race. After we signed up all I could think was “what did i get myself into?” At 45 I am overweight and trying to find that inner athlete that has been trapped. I have spent the past 22 years putting everyone and anything before me. My training didn’t go well but, there was no way that I was NOT going to complete in this 5K.

I took a train from NYC to Richmond and was greeted by Mindy the race organizer. I spent the day volunteering at the race registration site and watching all these “runners” register and started to panic. Mindy had spent the past month assuring me that as well as runners there would be some walkers, all I saw were runners. The day of the race I put my number on for my first 5K. The race started and so did I. The first obstacle I had to overcome was not wining this race. That competitive athlete inside me always had to be the best or one of the best. As I was passed by many I was still struggling mentally, how was I going to do this? This is when I decided no matter what, I would complete this 5K even if I was last. I actually watched a few people “skip” an entire circle in the race. Cheating was something I wasn’t going to do. I finished the race! I wasn’t last and I definitely wasn’t first but I did it.

That day I promised myself I would not be sitting on the sidelines watching anymore. If there is something I want to do, I will do it. It has been 6 months since this 5K I have done some walks, started a new career and made some changes. I think it’s time for another 5K! My goal this time is to be better than last time.

Need More Inspiration?


P.S.Tower Races (Skyscrapers and Stairwells) are exhilarating events. Outdoor running races become scarce during the Winter months, but these events provide a cardio challenge that is unaffected by the weather. These races are safe (the staggered start prevents crowding) and scalable (run or walk to the top). Some people refer to these as power events because they are usually completed in just several minutes. And don’t worry, the elevator brings everyone back down when they finish. 🙂 The American Lung Association holds these events in prominent buildings in the Tri-state area.

This link provides information on all of the 2014 ALA Tower Races:

How about you? Any of you inspired to start training now for future races? Those that already run, what are your favorite races?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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12 Thoughts on “12 Inspirational Stories to Get You Off Your Butt

  1. rama rajagopalan on December 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm said:

    Beautiful article!! Great Inspiration. Thanks Christine for sharing my story with all these wonderful people. Each and every story was amazing and inspiring. This shows that we can achieve anything if we set our hearts to it!! I have to specially thank Christine for introducing me to Weight training 10 years ago! You taught me everything I needed to know abt wts and doing them the right way!
    I wish each and every one of you a HEALTHY AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

    • Christine on December 26, 2013 at 11:21 pm said:

      Thank you. But all of you guys wrote the article. You are the ones inspiring everyone.
      Thank you for your determination, your time and your comment. 🙂

  2. So awesome! I love reading/hearing stories of overcoming and triumph!

  3. Thanks christine! This came out amazing I love reading everyones story and what and why they’re running for! I have been anxiously awaiting this blog and am inspired by all of your features. it shows anyone can do it and any goal is obtainable! thank you

  4. Great stories! It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we put our mind (and body) to it.

  5. This post is exactly what I needed! I am feeling so motivated right now, thank you!! xox

  6. Hola my writing friend! I guess I am now part of your Tribe! This is a great post, because it shows that many different things can work to help you stay in shape. I am with Anna— I HATE to run, never have liked it— but LOVE to ride my bike. I would like to find one of those bike races to enter as well.

    • Christine on February 11, 2014 at 7:15 am said:

      HELLO! Yes, welcome! There are SO SO many bike races. Google ‘bikes races’ in your area and get yourself inspired. It is such a great motivation! Write while you bike!! ha ha

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