How 13.1 Miles Changed a Non-Runner’s Outlook on Life

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At the beginning of 2017, Kristin Matteo was bored, a little burned out and stuck in a rut. Her part-time job wasn’t challenging her the way she wanted, and she had no long-term goals.

“I feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything,” says the 47-year-old travel blogger. “I was working for my husband’s company and I didn’t feel like I had anything of my own.”

She was (as she describes it) in “OK” shape, attending Zumba classes two or three times a week in her hometown of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and running a few miles “sporadically, to mix up the workout.” When a friend challenged her to sign up for the New Jersey Half Marathon, Matteo immediately dismissed the idea, never having run more than 3.5 miles at once.

“I’m not a runner. I hate running. I’ve always hated running,” says Matteo. “I told [my friend]I would drop her off at the start line on race day. I never thought I would be there, too.”

But after a few weeks of prodding and encouragement from her friend, Matteo found herself on the race registration website hours before a discount pricing deadline. She was hesitant, but in her mind, the price increase made signing up a “now-or-never” situation.

“I had texted all my runner friends that day, asking them if they thought I could do it,” she recalls. “They all said I could and I should.”

She had been researching half marathon training plans and found one that perfectly fit the timing she needed to train. The only thing left to do was commit. Though the doubt was still heavy in her mind, she decided to sign up.

“I registered — with all confidence that I could back out at any time,” Matteo admits. “My main obstacle became convincing my brain that I could actually do this.”

She eventually realized low self-confidence wouldn’t be the only hurdle she’d encounter along the way.

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