When Melanie Persia looks back on all she’s gained from taking up running, she’s surprised that more people haven’t taken advantage of its benefits.
“Anybody can do it,” the 48-year-old Vineland artist says. “But it’s a very mental sport. You just have to get into the right mindset.”
It all began in 2005 when Melanie noticed she was getting out of breath going up the stairs. Having lived a sedentary lifestyle and raised three children, she felt it was time to lose some weight. The question was “how?” By sheer chance, Melanie went to buy a gift for her husband Enzo at Runners’ Edge, an athletic footwear store in St. Catharines. One of the people there had lost a considerable amount of weight by getting involved in the store’s weekly running clinics. The idea seemed like a natural solution to her own problem.
At the Runners’ Edge Running Club, over 80 runners take part in the regular runs with participants ranging from beginning runners to more advanced athletes. Melanie found the clinics incredibly inspiring.
“It’s so helpful running with other people,” she says of the club. “Everybody supports one another and helps to get each other going. There’s a great sense of camaraderie.”
Although she had a few setbacks early on, Melanie was confident she could reach her goals if she believed in herself—and her dream came true. Since becoming a determined runner, Melanie has been able to shed over 35 pounds. She continues to work out and run five times a week but cuts her running schedule back during the hotter summer months.
“I feel it’s important to set goals for yourself,” Melanie says. “For me, making goals is all about listening to what’s out there and thinking—wow, that sounds fun or interesting, and deciding to go for it.”
Melanie’s passion for running is no surprise to those who know her. Since joining the Runners’ Edge Running Club, Melanie has been a tireless competitor, taking part in over 20 international races and marathons such as the Toronto International Marathon and the Flying Pig Half-Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio.
To Melanie, it’s all about the thrill of finishing the race, rather than how she actually places.
“I just want to prove that I can do it,” she explains. “But you have to ease your way into running marathons gradually or it can lead to injuries. Fortunately I’ve been injury-free…I always listen to my body.”
Melanie has no shortage of support with her running. Her husband has also got into the sport recently and her teenage girls have joined her on many of her 5 km runs.
“You need support from your family when it comes to running,” Melanie says. “And I’ve always had that.”
After running in the Philadelphia Marathon last November, Melanie decided to scale back on major marathons to focus on shorter 30 km runs. But she still has big plans in mind. Right now, her ambition is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with her husband on her 50th birthday in 2013. It’s a dream that will involve months of training and forethought on Melanie’s part. But then, she’s been committed to taking on new challenges her entire running career.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself while out on my runs,” Melanie says. “It’s all a mental challenge, and I’m glad that at my age I decided to change myself by putting one foot in front of the other.”