Melissa Kahn – Run, Heifer, Run
Meet Melissa Kahn . Melissa has an incredible story that I’m happy to share. Her story hits home in many ways and is she is truly runspirational. I’m so glad Melissa was kind of enough to participate in Runspirational’s 13.1 Q&A. Her love for helping others is unmatched. Please make sure you read her story, check out her website, and follow her on all of her social media outlets. Enjoy her fantastic answers below. Thank you so much Melissa for being so Runspirational!
Melissa Kahn, a Jenny Craig brand ambassador, half-marathon runner and mother of four, founded the online community called Run, Heifer, Run! as a way to connect with and encourage others who are on the journey to healthier and happier lives, one step or mile at a time. Five years ago, Melissa cut the bull and got serious about her health. Starting with a few steps, she lost over 110 pounds, worked her way up to running races and even completed a triathlon. She cleaned up her diet, shed weight and ultimately found a fitness enthusiast underneath her extra baggage.
Melissa does all of this from her HeiferHood in sunny Phoenix, where her husband, teenagers and two crazy puppies remind her that we’re all a little happier in a herd.
1 – You have an inspiring story. When did you start running and what was the final thing that pushed you to go for that first run?
I started running four years ago because a friend DARED me to run a half marathon with her. I had never run a step in my life – in fact I was always that person saying “I’ll only run if something is chasing me!” Basically, she dared me to sign up, and after complaining and whining about it for a few days, I pulled the trigger. I signed up, downloaded the C25K app, and never looked back, even though it was quite a struggle in the beginning. OK, actually it’s still a struggle. I’m not a natural born athlete. Quite the opposite in fact.
2 – You penned an article titled “Thank You for Calling Me Fatso“. What has the response been like for you?
The response to the Fatso article has been overwhelmingly positive. I have received emails, twitter messages, Facebook messages, etc, from people all over the globe who read it and felt that they could relate. I’ve had it shared by some very famous actors and other role models, all with very positive feedback. If sharing my story, if being transparent and vulnerable will help someone see that there’s hope, I will share it over and over again.
(Please take the time to read the article by Melissa by clicking here.)
3 – The article is absolutely amazing in so many ways. What got you to sit down and write it and what was your goal from it?
I had been thinking about what to say for many months, in my own mind. I wasn’t sure exactly how to say it, or when I wanted to put it out there – but when the time was right, I just felt it. I sat down and let it flow out of my heart onto the keyboard. My goal was quite literally to let people know that if I could overcome a lifetime of ridicule, obesity, self-doubt, etc… that there is hope for them, too. I wanted people to know that if a soccer mom of 4 kids can make a lasting lifestyle change, they can too. There is always hope. And there’s always a way out of a bad situation. Sometimes it takes time, but perseverance pays off. Never give up.
4 – Your website, RunHeiferRun.com, is a community. Can you tell us about The Herd?
#theHerd is full of so many amazing, inspiring people. Each person that has joined our group has an incredible story of their own – people feel that there’s power in sharing their struggle and success – and as each person shares, another one comes along that can relate to it, can take some hope from a particular aspect of someone else’s life – and that’s where the healing and encouragement, inspiration, and magic all start. It’s a group of people who have come together to encourage, support, cheer each other on – and share their successes as well. It’s a place where we can vent, where others understand our unique struggles, and where they are cheered on by heifers all across the world.
5 – What are your goals for the rest of 2017?
I’ll be speaking alongside Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso at the Buffalo Marathon coming up in a few weeks – and beyond that I’m excited to be an ambassador for the Laughlin Half Marathon in December, as well as running a few other half marathons with friends, representing RunHeiferRun.com. Personally speaking, I look forward to more injury free running, as well as partaking in more than my fair share of physical therapy and active release therapy, both which keep me physically able to run. My body suffered years of abuse as I attempted to eat my way to happiness for almost 40 years – and I’m beyond thankful it gives me enough grace to keep running.
6 – You’re a mom to four teenagers and married to an airline pilot. How and when do you find the time to run?
I get this question a lot – and one of our philosophies in RHR is “cut the bull!” So this is one of my favorite questions. If I can find the time – anyone can. Lifestyle changes sometimes have to be made to accommodate someone’s passion – but it CAN BE DONE. I wake up daily by 4am to either run or cross-train at the gym. It is quite truly the only time of day that I have to make it happen – so I do. There’s a certain peace to running in the dark, before the world wakes up (safety always comes first, please let’s all keep that in mind! Proper lights, reflective wear, no earbuds, change up route, never run alone, etc.) My husband travels frequently, so night time is typically devoted to kid-taxi duty, as well as homework patrol etc. I go to sleep early, so that I can wake up the next day and do it all again. If you’ve listened to any of my podcast interviews, you’ve heard me say things like, “Cooking dinner? Do calf raises while your pasta boils! Do planks while waiting on the microwave to beep” — I function on a “what you can when you can” mentality. No excuses. Ever. You’re worth it.
7 – What is the best advice for sticking with a healthy routine that you can give other busy parents or those that have significant others that travel often for work?
My best advice is make the time for yourself. If you don’t make it now, you’re going to have to find it later, while you’re in the hospital suffering cardiac issues, diabetes, joint replacement, etc. A lifetime of unhealthy choices will definitely catch up with you if you don’t take control now. It’s like people say, “Pay now or pay later!” I’d prefer to pay now, in the gym, with healthy food choices etc… than to suffer later. Find a routine that works for you, whether it’s exercising (most gyms have daycare for little ones, so there goes that excuse!) and stick to it. Make yourself a priority, because if you’re not healthy, how can you take care of your family? Have your friends hold you accountable if you need that – an exercise buddy is a very good thing!
8 – What has running taught you?
Running has taught me who I am. Running has cemented the fact that while adversity strikes us all, at certain times and in certain situations, nothing is forever. Pain is temporary. One foot in front of the other DOES get you to your goal, eventually. It won’t always be easy. Sometimes it will be downright horrid. But never give up, keep moving forward. Or as we say in RHR, Keep Mooooving Forward. There are no excuses, there is no giving up. There’s just trial and error, and triumph. And maybe there’s always a few cookies to celebrate a job well done, too, because, heifers love cookies. At least this heifer does.
9 – What do you do to recover, especially from long runs?
I whine a lot, if that counts. I foam roll, I stretch, and as mentioned above, I do physical therapy and active release therapy several times a week for added support. I roll my feet on tennis balls and use ice packs when necessary as well. I take glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric, and all kinds of other natural things like Arnica in order to perform to the best of my abilities.
10 – What have been some of your favorite races that you have run?
The Phoenix Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart, since that was my very first race (The “Challenge!” race) The course is flat, which for someone like me, with arthritis, etc … is a beautiful thing. I also enjoyed the Lincoln, NE Half Marathon … the crowd support is absolutely amazing.
11 – What has been your proudest running accomplishment?
Each and every single race that I finish makes me proud. Coming from a lifetime of unfinished goals, obesity, low self esteem, etc… just knowing I can finish what I started is enough for me. I’m most proud of the fact that I’m still running, four years later. I never thought I’d like it. To be fair, I hate it. And I love it, and then I hate it again. It’s like banging your head against a wall – “why do you do it?” because it feels so good when you stop. 🙂 Running has become an obsession for me.
12 – On an average week, how many days do you run and what is your mileage like on the days you run?
I run 3-4 times per week when I’m not training for anything. I typically run a 5k distance which allows my body easier recovery. If I’m training for a race I do one long run on the weekend.
13 – Do you have any racing superstitions, routines, or good luck charms?
I never eat before a race. Fasted cardio is my routine, so I don’t change that. All I CAN say — is don’t try something new – like a whole orange at mile 9 of a half marathon- on race day. Just trust me on that one. I always wear my HeiferWear, and just try to have fun.
Bonus Question – If you could meet three people from the past or present, who would they be and why?
I would meet The Tenors (all 3 of them) because their music has taken me through some really hard times. There’s a certain calmness their music gives me, inside my heart, and I’d like to meet them to personally thank them.