From excuses to endorphins: how one woman went from loathing running to LOVING her running lifestyle.

Michelle FarnsworthMichelle Farnsworth – West Jordan, Utah

Growing up I was always chubby and as a teenager felt like I was overweight. After getting married at the young age of 19, I found myself at my heaviest weight ever – an embarrassing 225 pounds. I was miserable and not happy with how I looked. I made excuses for not exercising enough or eating the wrong things, always claiming I was too busy and couldn’t make the time. At least, that’s what I told myself.

By 2005, I had grown tired of constantly packing on the pounds and knew something had to be done. I started working out some and watching what I ate and managed to lose 60 lbs, which felt great! We decided to have a baby and lo-and-behold, the 60 lbs came back all too easily.

After my son was born, I started out doing the same things I had done before – elliptical at the gym, sometimes 4 or 5 times a week and a circuit training program offered through work. I was able to shed about 30 pounds but soon plateaued and could not lose any more weight. I decided to try something new entirely: running.

My entire life I had hated to run and in high school did everything possible to avoid that dreaded run day in gym class. I always made excuses to avoid it but when it came right down to it, I simply was out of shape and it was HARD. I started out doing a route in the area where I lived that was a small circle amounting to about 2 miles. While I started out mostly walking with occasional brief stints of running, gradually I was able to work up to where I was doing more running than I was walking.

Within a couple of months a funny thing also started to happen… the weight was melting off of my body. It was thrilling and addicting, all at once. I had finally found something that not only challenged me, but provided results as well. Running for me went from being a loathsome activity to a new love and obsession. I was always looking for ways to improve my time, push my limits and challenge myself. I ran my first half marathon in July of 2010 and have since completed seven full marathons and countless half-marathons, relay races and even a Tough Mudder.

Running has been my therapy and saving grace. In the middle of this transformation, my ten year marriage came to a tumultuous end. I have spent the past couple of years trying to pick up the pieces and focus on my son and now I finally feel like I have my feet beneath me again. As a way to cross-train and get rid of some pent up frustration, I started boxing with a local boxing club and also began CrossFit at a box close to my home. I am addicted to the endorphins and rush I get when I come up with a new record for myself.

Perhaps my greatest sense of accomplishment comes from being able to call myself a marathoner, having conquered 7 of the beasts, two in just the last month. I love the challenge but even more I love the miles and miles of training that go into it. This past September I ran with my little brother who was attempting his first marathon. He didn’t train for it whatsoever and everyone thought he would crash and burn. But he surprised us all and stayed with me the entire way – finishing with a stellar finish of 4:08.

I am told regularly that I’m crazy and asked quite often when I take time off from training. My answer to that is that this routine that I’ve carved out for myself is a lifestyle I’ve grown to love and am severely protective of. The thousands of miles I’ve run have made my transition into triathlon training infinitely easier than it would have been otherwise. The squat cleans and deadlifts at CrossFit have turned my snowboarding hobby into a new passion because my legs are strong enough to carry me through the Utah mountain ranges. In typical fashion, I’ve set my sights on a bigger dream: a 70.3 half triathlon next fall – Go big or go home!

My son never knew his mom as the out of shape and overweight young woman I once was. But I love that he sees me out tackling new challenges, conquering my fears and taking risks. And that’s what has made the journey worth it all.

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Michelle, you both inspire and amaze me. Congratulations on all of your amazing accomplishments – and trust me when I say I’ll be cheering my head off for you all the way to your first 70.3. Onward! xo

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