Running for Fun and Fitness with Melissa Genova!

The most recent race that I ran was the 1st Annual Women’s Half Marathon and 5k. I ran the 5k portion, but I am preparing for my first half marathon this fall.

This race in particular had me thinking about how I got into running and most importantly, why I have kept running.  It was pretty obvious why – the mantra for the advertisement was “I run because…”

Do I run because of the cool medals?  Is it to raise money for charities? Is it the free beer at every event that motivates me? Is it the excuse to wear costumes for runs like the Elvis is Alive and the Monster Dash? Is it because of the sense of community amongst athletes? Let’s face it, those short running shorts are mighty comfy in the heat, too.

A healthy dose of all of the above are reasons to keep running, but first I should tell you how I started running. It was a fortuitous and a total coincidence. I was at the gym and there were no elliptical machines open. I am an impatient person, and I was running late for work that morning.

I don’t think that I had every actually run a full mile at that time without stopping (and complaining). In high school, my friends and I were so lazy and slow that we were lapped multiple times. We actually tricked the gym teacher into thinking that we had run the whole mile.  That or she just realized that we were holding up the rest of the class.

Fast forward 10 years. I decided to try that treadmill one more time. I barely ran half a mile without panting, but I decided to give it a go the next day, too.  I was able to make it up to a mile almost immediately!  Two weeks into my first tries at running, my ex-boyfriendhad heard that I began to run. I was invited to join his team for the Jim Gibbons 5k Traffic Jam.  I thought that if he could run this race (chainsmoker), I could totally beat him. Of course, he beat me the first year. I smoked him the next. I have done this race 3 summers in a row, and this year my mom and friend were there running beside me.

What kept me going? I discovered that THIS is my way to meditate. Running is my time to listen to my music, podcasts or just my thoughts. As a non-religious but spiritual person, I feel comfortable in saying that this is my way to talk to my god. I use in downtown Chicago by the lakefront and discovered the serenity of running in a mist at dawn, dodging birds, watching the water and running alongside the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium.  When I moved to Logan Square, it was how I learned my way around the neighborhood.  With running, I get to push my body to new limits, and I get to engage with my surroundings while doing it.

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Everybody has their reasons when they start (and quit) running. It can be difficult to keep it up, so here are some tips to help you in the beginning:

  • The first mile can still be difficult, even for somebody who has been running for a couple of years. Just get past it and then you will hit that “zone.”
  • Get yourself some really cute clothes. All of my athletic gear is pink – my shoes, my iPod and headphones, my bras, tennis racket… (you get the picture). I even bought myself a pair of semi-pricey hot pink hot shorts to debut in September motivate me for my half marathon . However, do not spend a lot of money on athletic clothes in the beginning – they will become over-sized and you’ll get irritated. I recommend Target, Old Navy, and even Marshalls for some really stylish and comfortable workout gear to get you started.
  • Make a playlist for your ears. Seriously, nobody else knows what I listen to when I run. Here is an example of artists one of my playlists: The Kills, Blondie, Big Country, Silversun Pickups, Of Monsters and Men, Beastie Boys, Dolly Parton, Carly Rae Jepsen… wait. Dolly Parton and Carly Rae Jepsen?! Hell yea! It is my playlist. And have you heard of a song called “Jolene”? What woman wouldn’t get pumped listening to a song about some bitch trying to steal her man?
  • Run for something. There are so many runs out there devoted to charities. I have raised money for the Heart Association, Luekemia, World Vision, and my ultimate goal will be to run the Chicago Marathon for Team Fox to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease.

Check out Melissa’s Ms. Behaved Style Icon profile here



  1. I love all of your tips! My running clothes are super cute (although my triathlon stuff is…eh), I listen to the junkiest, most embarrassing music when I run, and no lie, every time I go out for a run, that first mile always has me thinking that this is it, this will be the day I no longer love to run. It usually clears up when I hit mile two, though.

    Good luck with your preps for your first half-marathon! I find the distance addictive. It’s long enough that you really feel like a bad ass when you finish, but not so long that you have to give up your life to make it happen.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Caitlin!

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