marathon

Weekly Roundup: a Transgender Ballerina, the Heaviest Woman to Complete a Marathon Record & Megan Rapinoe's Dance Moves

Great Big Story profiles Jayna Ledford, transgender ballerina

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Great Big Story profiled Jayna Ledford, an aspiring ballerina and transgender woman. Jayna discusses growing up knowing she was trans, her young dance career, losing her scholarship when she decided to come out at 17—and her journey back towards dancing with a new studio.

Check out Great Big Story’s video about Jayna here.

Jennifer Smith becomes heaviest woman to complete a marathon

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Uh, GO JENNIFER. I only have one issue with this and it’s that the article says she covered 26 miles. Hey news people, that .2 is a LOT when it’s right at the finish! Jennifer weighs 346 pounds and completed the distance in 11 hours and 50 minutes. Freakin’ amazing. Read more about this badass record-breaker here.

Megan Rapinoe—that’s it. That’s the headline

Megan Rapinoe, World Cup Champion recently took to the streets in a victory parade through New York City. Then she made a speech about equal pay, doing better as citizens and oh yes, stole the show with her entrance. LEGEND.

How to tell if you’re in a bad group fitness class

Stack has highlighted 7 of the telltale signs you’re in a poorly managed group fitness class—if your local step class is doing any/all of these, it’s time to start shopping around for a new one or advocating for change! Classes could also offer chairs in the back for those who need to workout sitting down, and could even include systems to loop in those with hearing aids. Read the list here.

A Post-Marathon Crisis & Some New Goals

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My wildest running dream came true when I made myself a marathoner last month.

When I say “wildest” I mean that literally. Less than two years ago I was struggling to run three kilometres without stopping, let alone 42.2…

And then I freaking DID it.

Achieving the dream was better than I ever imagined. I knew myself better on that course than I had on any other day of my life. I cried and celebrated with friends and family. I brought my medal into the office for my curious coworkers. And yet, after the week of resting my legs came to an end, I realized finishing the marathon left me with a new, weird emptiness.

Existential dread for runners

Suddenly I didn’t have any goal to push for—not a race, not an untouchable distance. When you aim for the highest, most impossible peak you can think of and actually exceed your own expectations… what then?

So now, I’m suddenly having a mini existential running crisis. (Who am I if I’m not getting up before dawn to drag my ass over a couple dozen kilometres?)

The knee-jerk instinct of the fresh marathoner might be to leap into the next race, setting eager sights on getting a faster time, or even aiming for a further distance. I don’t have that driving urge. I know it will come back, but for the mean time I’m trying to sort out now. I’m asking other questions.

Can I ask any more of myself?
What do I want out of my sport?
How can I give back?

And here’s what I’ve come up with—some new #rungoals.

Get Involved In The Running Community

After receiving so much Instagram support during my marathon I realized I’m officially in the running community… Maybe that was obvious to everyone BUT me. The only problem is, unless you’re about to reinvent the livestream, I can’t go running with all the amazing people I know on Insta.

And, since my friends and family are immune to my attempts to get them into running so that I don’t have to y’know… meet people, it’s officially time to get some new ones. (Sorry mom!)

This means fighting my instinct to avoid running with other people. It definitely means volunteering at races and getting my ass out there. I’m putting this here to hold myself accountable. The time for being a hermit is over!

Become A More Well-Rounded Athlete

Why is it so hard to find time for an hour of yoga, but easy to find one for a 10K?

A runner is a runner is an injured runner. (Maybe they’re also a runner with weak t-rex arms like me.) Basically, I’d like to work on building a better overall fitness base by incorporating more cross training and other sports/workouts into my weekly routine.

I’m also counting on the fact that changing things up will make the days that I DO get to run more just that much better… and that this will make me a better runner over all.

SIGN UP FOR More Races

Right before the marathon, I was freaked out. Ask anyone who was within a 10 metre physical-or-digital radius of me.

I got lost in grocery stores. I terrified Running Room employees. I sewed.

My pre-race jitters probably would have happened anyway, but I’m convinced they would have been considerably less intense if I had run more races this year. Races have their own energy, and I need to get used to being in that energy. (Plus, who doesn’t love a good finish line photo or some bling?)

Run Another Marathon (But Take Better Care Of Myself)

While working myself up to arguably the best shape I’ve ever been in for the marathon I wasn’t necessarily at my healthiest. I spent most weeks getting less sleep than I needed and struggled to eat enough.

In fact (warning, TMI ahoy) somewhere in the middle of training I actually missed a period. I’m pretty sure upping the weekly mileage without having an adequate meal prep game/sleep schedule had something to do with it.

Hopefully embracing these other goals will give me the physical strength and mental fortitude to tackle another marathon some day. And, when that day comes, I want to commit to a more wholesome training routine. The name of the game will be actually forcing myself to be regimented, replenished, and rested.

So that’s it. The new set of goals. New heights. New challenges to carry me into 2019. Has anyone else started thinking of running resolutions (WAY) in advance of the New Year?

Martinus' #StartingLine: "300 Pounds and Running."

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Martinus Evans weighed about 370 pounds when a doctor threw the F-word in his face: “Mr. Evans, you’re fat.”

He'd come in for help after work-related hip pain and weeks of physiotherapy. When the doc suggested that he start walking, Martinus’ angry response would carve him a new life:

“Screw that. I’m gonna run a marathon.”

Soon, he started the Couch to 5K training program and began blogging his journey on his site, 300 Pounds and Running. Fuelled by defiance, determination, and a weight loss goal, in October of 2013, he put his marathon where his mouth was and finished the Detroit Marathon. It was a huge personal win—but his road to running was just beginning.

In January and July of 2014 he was in two separate car accidents that knocked him out of his running shoes and into painful recovery until early 2016. He got back up and went out. Then, tackling a runstreak, he developed tears in his Achilles tendon that benched him again. Now, FINALLY, he’s up and running, training for this year’s New York Marathon.

Martinus hosts the 300 Pounds and Running podcast, was recently featured in Runner’s World magazine, is a certified RRCA coach, and has written his own eBook, Zero to Running. I had the pleasure of interviewing him about the latest leg of his journey, what it’s like to be plus-sized and Black in a thin white sport, man boobs, his goals, and more.

Strap into your sneakers, it's about to get real.

Source: Instagram

Source: Instagram

What do you think brings you back to running after all of these injuries and setbacks? 

Running’s my mechanism! People have their things. With me, running my marathon, being on top  of the world, running has been my thing. This is what I wanna do.

The other thing is [me] being a sad puppy, for lack of a better word. You know, like you’re a puppy in the back seat and you lookin’ out the window. I would just drive, it would be a bright and sunny day, and I would just see runners running by. I’d feel sad like “DAMN. That used to be me! I want to get out there again!”


Until pretty recently, running has been a thin, white sport.

What’s your experience being not only a plus-sized athlete, but also a person of colour?

Where do I start?! As an athlete, as a person who has been an offensive lineman, I’ve always been someone who has used their weight for advantage. When it comes to all the other sports, it’s all about being explosive.The faster you are, the bigger advantage you have.

When I started running, I didn’t think about long distance. I thought about like… sprinters. That’s … one of the reasons I didn’t succeed in Couch to 5k the first 4-5 attempts, because I’m trying to run as fast as I can for a minute and a half, as opposed to learning the concept of a conversation pace. 

Also, yes do you do get those weird looks. You get those bro types like, “RUN, FAT MAN WOOOO!” But I think as a man I don’t receive those comments as much as my female counterparts. 

"Being a fat Black man doing this is like an oxymoron."

As far as being a person of colour... Being a fat Black man doing this is like an oxymoron. Me being out here in New England, Massachusetts, being in a primarily white neighbourhood... It’s interesting. You get the double takes. 

Even talking to my family, I’m like “I’m gonna go for a run” and they’re like “no man, a run? That’s some white people type shit! I’m not running unless a dog’s chasing me, or I’m in danger!” It’s very crazy, talking to my friends back in Detroit, where I grew up. They’re like “you’ve been up in Massachusetts too long, hanging around the white folks, because we ain’t running out here for like health or fitness!” The community just doesn’t understand.

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WhaT'S BEEN YOUR biggest obstacle as a runner?

A) Injuries. B) Motivation and mindset. I would say injuries because being a bigger person, you’ve got a lot of moving parts, one of the things just happens—a lot of people suffer from shin splints and things of that sort. I think a lot of people go out too fast, too soon and hurt themselves before they get into a groove.

The other one is mindset. The thing is, people compare themselves a lot—and don’t think of themselves AS being a runner because they’re like OH, I did run/walk intervals, or I’m not as fast as the speed demon next to me on the treadmill. It’s a mindset type of thing—if you doing anything faster than a walk, you’re running. 


FLIP THAT: What’s a recent victory you achieved?

I feel like I have victories every DAY! In pertaining to that Instagram post I put up, that was a huge victory. (Editor’s note: Martinus is talking about this post, which encouraged me to contact him in the first place!) You know, I’m a man with boobs. Having man boobs is something that a lot of men are afraid to talk about. So me taking off my shirt and being A) uncomfortable about the situation B) being like I’mma post this on the internet where … I’ve got tens of thousands of followers… That’s a victory. 

Me, being on this workout streak for three or four weeks in a row... THAT’S a victory.  Hell, just getting out the bed, at 6 a.m. is a victory. Because there was a lot of times going through depression and not working out that I just stayed in the bed. Whereas now… It’s a priority.

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What does running give you that you don’t get anywhere else?

Peace. Gives me peace of mind. Running ... is the only time where I can calm down the inner voices in my head. There's just something about that. You got work, you wanna watch TV, you got social media, everything's pinging you. Running is the one time I can just silence it all. It can just be me, and me breathing and like hearing the sounds my body make when it hits the pavement.

For me, I feel the most when I’m with my maker, the grand architect of the universe, when I’m running. Me going into a church. Don’t do nothing for me. That’s when I’m at peace and at one with whoever the maker of the universe is. 


And what are some of your future goals?
 

My big goal is the NYC marathon. I got entered into it last year but because of my Achilles issue I just couldn’t get healed enough to do the race, so I deferred it. So I got that race this year. I’m doing this thing called the Boston Athletics Association Medley—a 5k, 10k, half marathon throughout the year. I got a couple half marathons I signed up for. I got a calendar full of things. My big goal for next year is to do an ironman. 

Last question: Did you ever go back to that doctor?
 

Absolutely not! I am not going back to anybody who treats me wrong. He’s dead to me. It’s just not cool to tell your patient “you're fat.” Granted, that was the catalyst I needed to get off my butt, to get going, but there’s a lot of other people who don’t have that personality that I have. I’m super competitive.

You tell me I can’t, I’mma show you why I can.

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You can find Martinus on his site, 300PoundsandRunning.com.

To stay up-to-date with #StartingLines and more, follow The Every Body Collective on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! (Seriously, I don't bite.)