A Reason for Running

November 16 2012

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For Tina McElyea, it was a way to restore sanity in the aftermath of family tragedy. For Tonya Holland, it was a passion she borrowed from her husband until it became her own. For Amanda Vandegrift, it began as a way to relieve stress and turned into a way to raise money about a potentially fatal disease. 

When SeetheGood.com asked Regions associates who love to run what inspires them, the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. No two stories are alike, but they share a common theme: whatever got them started, people who run often find that it changes their lives. Here are a few of their stories. 


When Love Goes the Distance

“My story is not flashy,” writes Tonya Holland of Tampa, Fla., who started running in 2008 for the simple reason that it seemed like good exercise, and she wanted to stay healthy. At first, she couldn’t even run around the block without feeling a pain in her side, but she slowly started to push herself harder. “I would just keep going, pain or no pain, until I was able to run a few miles without stopping,” she remembers. 

Impressed by her perseverance, her husband asked her to join him in a 10K. Later, he decided to run his first marathon, so she signed up for a half-marathon to show support. Before she knew it, they were training for the Disney Marathon together. On race day, her husband surprised her with a running shirt he’d had made just for the occasion, with “Go Tonya” printed on the front and “UR All Heart” on the back. “We ran and finished the marathon together, crossing the finish line with our hands held and fists pumping all the way.” 


A New Sense of Purpose

A few years ago, Tina McElyea of Athens, Ala., suffered a double family tragedy when her father was killed in a hunting accident and her brother died in a car collision. Overwhelmed by grief, there were days she feared depression was getting the best of her. 

Then one day, she tried something she’d never done before: she went out running. 

“Just running the streets of my neighborhood, I found that my anxiety was drastically reduced, and I almost felt a sense of peace,” Tina says. 

As she began running longer distances, she started to look into races that benefit charity.

“I thought, why not do this for a reason?” She chose a 5K with proceeds going to an organization that supports adoption, a cause close to her heart because her own son is adopted. She felt doubly blessed by having found a way to cope with her own grief in a way that also helps others. 

“I continue to run and enter various races that benefit worthwhile causes,” she says. “Thanks to running, I have come to be at peace with those things that once had stolen my joy.”


Running to Remember

Amanda Vandegrift of Birmingham, Ala., has long been an avid runner. When her mother was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer in 2004, she found that running was one of the ways that helped her cope. When her mother later died from the disease, she thought it might be a way to honor her mother’s legacy, too. The Rumpshaker 5K was born. 

The first 5K run was held in the spring of 2009. Organizers, who included Amanda, her dad, her brothers, and her running buddies, were hoping for a turnout of at least 200 participants, but they ended up with 1,200 that very first year. 

“Our primary goal is to raise awareness,” Amanda says of the event, which also raises money for the cause. “Colon cancer doesn’t have to kill 50,000 people in the United States each year. It’s a preventable, treatable and beatable disease if you have regular screenings, so we’re passionate about this cause and want to continue my mom’s fight.” 


Outrunning MS

Four years ago, Ben Calvert of Huntsville, Ala., consulted a doctor about numbness in his legs and was shocked to learn he had multiple sclerosis. His doctor advised him to stay as active as possible to fight the disease, so he thought back to what he used to do to get in shape to play lacrosse in college: run. A lot. 

“Back then I only ran because my coach was making me,” Ben says. “I hated it.” 

But he now was facing a much bigger challenge than lacrosse ever posed, so he decided to give it another try. 

“Over time, I started to get in better shape and found that I really enjoy it,” he says. “Running is my favorite part of the day now, a time to get out and have time to myself to think.

“Since then I've run many races while battling the disease,” he continues. “Some days I feel like I could run forever, while on other days three miles feels as tough as a marathon. I've learned that it's not always about how far you go, but how hard you try.”


Boston or Bust

Once an avid runner, Debbie Indermuehle of Nashville, Tenn., hadn’t entered a race in many years when she began to consider how she wanted to mark her 40th birthday in 2010. She decided to resume training, setting her sights on the Chickamauga Marathon in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., that fall. Around the same time, she conceived of an audacious 40-mile, 40th-birthday one-woman run to raise money for the Nashville Rescue Mission. 

She completed both successfully and discovered that her times qualified her to run the Boston Marathon. Having always drawn strength from her faith during races, she decided to employ a unique strategy, covering her arm with the names of people she wants to pray for while she runs. It helped get her through all 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon in April. 

“One person for each mile,” she explains. “It keeps me going, because you don’t want to quit on somebody’s mile.” 


Running Tips from an Expert

Certified Fitness Specialist Matt Crane of Birmingham, Ala., has worked with clients who are starting to run for the first time, others who are training for marathons, and everyone in between. Here he shares tips he uses in designing running programs for his clients. 

1. Start small, build slowly. Set realistic goals and listen to your body. Short-term muscle soreness or pain is normal, but consult a doctor if the pain persists more than week.

2.  Supplement your running with resistance training at least twice a week to build bone density and joint strength for a better foundation. If you don’t have access to weights, do simple body-weight movements like squats, pushups, and planks.

3. Ninety to 120 minutes prior to a long run or race, eat a meal high in complex carbohydrates and moderate to low in fat, fiber, and protein such as a bagel with natural peanut/almond butter; a whole wheat turkey sandwich with a small piece of cheese; or a bowl of regular oats (no sugar added) with a tablespoon of peanut butter and 10-15g protein depending on gender.




For more information on the Rumpshaker 5K, please visit rumpshaker5K.com.


MATT CRANE is a Regions customer.  


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  • Each person has a different reason for running, and each one is unique. Some for fitness, and some so they can continue to enjoy life. Running a marathon would be a mountain for some and an interesting way to celebrate a birthday. To all who run, keep pounding away at the pavement and wiping the sweat away. It will be worth it.

    Judy Bates
  • All of the stories were very interesting especially the one about MS. I just started to run this year and had to stop because of a transition in my life. Now, I have started back running and loving every minute of it. It's so good to see others running for reasons that might be not be for physical fitness reasons but for a purpose or cause.

    Philip Hall
  • Wow, awesome article. Really, thank you! Cool. A round of applause.

    A round of applause