Running With the Pack
by Adrienne Carr
In 2011, after years of unhealthy habits and little-to-no physical activity, I decided to step on a scale. While I knew I had gained weight, I never imagined that the number staring back at me would be 30 pounds heavier than I remembered from just three years earlier. At 5’4, I weighed 183 pounds and I was ashamed at my weight gain.
As a mid-career professional working in support of the Department of the Navy, my work was demanding. In the midst of wars brewing in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no shortage of late nights in the office, which often led to unfortunate dinner choices. Compound that with happy hours and a significant amount of work-related travel, and I had a trifecta for gradual weight gain.
In D.C., there’s no shortage of fitness options. So, I joined a local gym with the thought that paying an astronomical membership fee would be all the motivation I needed to drop the extra pounds. I was sadly mistaken. I spent more time looking at the machines than actually working out. After a year or so, I had to face the fact that “gym life” wasn’t for me and that I needed to change course.
I started to go for walks outside, and I gradually went from one mile to four. I was encouraged by that progress and soon thought jogging might be an option to kick it up a notch. To start, I ran with my friend and her mom as a means to build my confidence. I didn’t think I “looked” like a runner so those early runs were integral for my confidence and development as a runner. I was slow, but I was determined.
Finding My Tribe(s)
In the summer of 2014, I was introduced to District Running Collective (DRC), a run club that met within walking distance of my apartment. Their close proximity and my growing love for running was a perfect storm for increased confidence and ever-improving paces. Over time, I wasn’t just a casual jogger anymore, I was a runner.
In late 2014, I signed up for my first half marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Washington, D.C. I joined the Fleet Feet DC running program to train, which helped me build from five miles to the half distance. It was during that time that I realized the key to my running success was running in a pack, something I feel promotes accountability and acts as a source of constant motivation. Similar to DRC, Fleet Feet connected me with like-minded people and made me realize I was part of a larger community.
As someone who thrives on healthy competition, the dynamic nature of running in groups like DRC and Fleet Feet motivated me to become a better runner. Run groups encourage me to run faster and harder. These “packs” hold me accountable for showing up and performing to the best of my ability.
Crossing the Finish
Crossing the finish line of my first half filled me with an immeasurable sense of pride that far transcended my desire to lose weight. Over time, shedding pounds was simply an awesome by-product of my new hobby.
Today, after four half marathons and numerous 10 milers and 10Ks, I’m 35 pounds lighter and I love the runner I’ve become. While I continue to run with friends and organized run groups, I’ve enjoyed diversifying my fitness routine over the years to keep the pounds at bay. Currently, I attend HIIT classes at Sweat DC regularly and I’m an avid indoor cyclist.
For beginning runners, I encourage you not to wait to find the pack that best fits you. Trust the process. At this moment, you have everything you need to be the best you.
It all starts with one step.
Editor’s note: There is no magical “right” weight for any woman. The weight that the author was unhappy with in this article might be perfectly fine for another person. The goal is to be your healthiest, happiest self and Adrienne’s story is meant to reflect the positive effects she felt after committing to getting out and getting active with run clubs. RUNGRL hopes that this positive effect she experienced is what readers will find most inspiring.
Adrienne is from Prince George’s County, M.D. She works for the Department of the Navy as an Acquisition professional and teaches indoor cycling classes at CYCLED! and Vida Fitness (Yards). She is an alumna of both Bowie State University and Catholic University of America and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society.