Runner Spotlight: Jessica Gonzales

Today we feature our last runner highlight, Jessica Gonzales, instructional assistant for the Spanish department at Northwest Campus.  Hopefully her inspiring words will encourage you to take a moment and register for the Dec. 1 Toro Dash! The early registration deadline is today, so get crackin’!

Jessica Gonzales

What was your motivation for starting a walking/running program?

About five years ago, I graduated from college and moved back home. I was also severely overweight and just not happy with that. I decided that I wanted to live a healthier life for myself and for any family I may want to have in the future, so I started eating better and working out a few times a week (weight training). It wasn’t until five or six months in that I decided to give walking/running a try.  Since then, I’ve kept up the motivation by setting goals for myself. Whether it be bettering a time or running longer, I’ve found keeping it fresh helps me want to keep doing it.

How did you get started?

Very slowly. I used the Couch to 5K program, which is a three month program that gets you from no running to running a 5K. When I started, a three on the treadmill was my run and it is amazing to me to know that a three is my warm-up walk now. That program just made it so easy to stick with it because it wasn’t overwhelming and you were allowed to repeat a week if you didn’t feel like you were ready for the next week yet.

How has your life improved as a result of your walking/running?

Honestly, it has improved many things.  My health, for one, but it has also given me more confidence in being able to overcome things. I always hated running and still have my days where I am not a fan but that fact that I’ve run countless 5Ks and 10Ks, two half marathons, and am about to run my first marathon in spite of those days has been something I wouldn’t trade. It’s made me stronger, physically and mentally. Running teaches you so much about mental grit, about fighting through something you don’t want to do and I know that has helped me with non-running challenges in my life. It has also helped me learn to listen more to my body. Some days you’re body just needs to rest, no matter how much you might want to get a few miles in, and learning to respect that is important and plays a role with other places in your life as well.

What advice would you have for others interested in starting a walking/running program?

I’d say you have to find a program that works for you. I’m a huge champion of the Couch to 5K program if you’re just starting out because it really does a good job easing you into the running world and that is what I have found to be so important. Too many people decide they want to be runners and get dressed and try to go out and run a mile, when they haven’t done anything like that in years (if ever) and are instantly discouraged because they don’t do well. Running takes patience, so whatever you do, just take it slowly and eventually (quicker than you realize) you’ll be running races!