A Runners Spirit

By Melissa Peek Burton

When I got out of the Marine Corps in 1995, I swore I’d never run again. My knees would ache for days after a run. It just wasn’t worth it.

My sedentary lifestyle caught up with me and I gained a lot of weight. I was miserable inside and out. I knew I had to do something. In 2006, I started taking a “boot camp” program and lost some weight. The instructor was the perfect combination of tough and compassion. I didn’t need all the hard nosed discipline, I just needed accountability to show up.

Jen, the instructor, was good at her job. She also ran half marathons “for fun.” I would heckle her as she would tell us about her races. She would make me “pay” for it. It was all in good fun.

Three years ago, I read a marathon race report on a Walt Disney World website by a woman who made a marathon sound like “fun.” She inspired a whole lot of others to do it, and guess what… they did.

Life changes happened, divorce, single parenting, etc., but I had stopped with the boot camp exercise program. (They had a change of time and instructors and it just didn’t work anymore.) I knew I needed a change physically, something just for me.

On April 1st, 2009, I started “No Boundaries,” a couch to 5k program through Fleet Feet Sports. When I started the program, I already had my eyes set on my first half marathon 5 months later. I “knew” I could do it because the 5k program ended with a long run of 3.75 miles. The half marathon training program started two weeks later with a 4 mile run. Piece of cake.

It still hurt when I ran so I had went to my regular MD and to my chiropractor. My MD said I needed knee surgery (NO WAY!) and my chiropractor told me I shouldn’t be running. It was bad for my knees. Stopping training was not an option, so I pressed on through the pain.

Through Fleet Feet, I met a chiropractor who made my pain while running go away using a technique called “Active Release Technique.” I now run virtually pain free, although, I’m a little achy during the first three miles of a run. By mile 4, I feel great and just lose track of the miles.

To make a long story short, since April 1st, 2009, I’ve lost over 40lbs, trained for and ran one marathon (Marine Corps Marathon, October 31st, 2010), 6 half marathons, 4 10ks, a 5 mile race, and numerous 5ks. I don’t keep track of 5k’s and honestly, I try to avoid them. My favorite distance is a half marathon.

Read about My First Marathon

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3


6 comments on “A Runners Spirit

  1. I would sure like to do what you did. I am 56 years old and I two years ago I had the ACL in my R knee replace with that of a cadaver. I am over 100 pounds overweight. Is it too late for me to do the same thing? I am almost afraid to try. I have been wanting to go back to Marine Corps Boot Camp just so I would have the discipline to get back in shape. Can you tell me more about the program you used? I don’t want to run a marathon but I sure would like to be able to jog 3 miles again. At this point it is dangerous for me to jog. Sure would love to have some advice.
    Debbie Wieske

  2. Debbie, look up couch to 5k. It will get you moving. It’s where I began. If you have a Fleet Feet Sports locally, talk to them about their No Boundaries program. The comraderie, support, & accountability is what I needed most.

    ANYONE can do what I did, I promise. Just one foot in front of the other. One step at a time.

  3. One other thing: I run intervals. I run for 3 mins, I walk for 1 min, over & over again.

    When I started, I ran 1 min & walked 2 mins. 1 min felt like a lifetime then.

  4. I said the same thing and since then I have done so many 5K’s and 10K’s and a several 1/2 Marathons and a Marathon in all 50 States (but, a total of 75 Marathons). Also, I have done 10 triathlons….love it. Semper Fi!!!

  5. Yay For you Melissa!!
    Love to hear about your running adventures. I’m 51 and running more than I ever did, even as a Marine. I am also the thinnest I’ve ever been. Running regularly allows me to eat just about anything I want, but I usually eat healthy because I want to run well. Mostly though I just run for the sheer joy of running. It’s precious time to think, pray, process problems, and just BE. Debbie, don’t let age make you think you can’t do it. I have also heard a LOT of positive feedback about Fleet Feet. OOrah! 🙂

  6. I will have to ask my chiropractor about the technique you described here! My knees are getting worse and I have to do something about all the extra me I am carrying around! Thanks for such an inspiring story!

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