How Running Changed Me: Running Gave Me Confidence
Darlene Anita Scott started running after getting out of a relationship and it changed her life.
NAME Darlene Anita Scott
OCCUPATION University instructor & writer
HOMETOWN Richmond, VA
What prompted you to start working out? I stopped dating this guy I liked and was determined that the next time he saw me he would regret it. (I think my plan worked)! That also prompted me to start thinking more about how much I’d been stifling myself. I began doing a bunch of stuff I had wanted to do from painting to skydiving to swim lessons.
How did you start? I started working out the first semester of college in a PE class. But it took me 10 more years to join a gym. Because I wasn’t particularly heavy and people around me didn’t do it, I had feared being labeled as radical. As for running, I started running 3 years ago. I had been spinning a lot, and working out (kickboxing, Zumba, resistance training). I had no job and thus, nothing else to do so the activities gave me a schedule and the endorphins acted as anti-depressants. During that time, a friend suggested we run a 5-K. I balked. But I began training. We never ran it, but I got a new job in a new city 3 months later, met up with a group training for a half marathon there, and started running with them (unwittingly training for what would be my first race—a half marathon).
Describe your regular workout routine. I run 4 to 5 times a week and complete 2-3 resistance sessions a week, for core, for upper body and for legs. I like to cycle twice a week too. I also take African Dance class once a week and belly dance once a week. I think of those as more of fun activities than workouts even though they make me sore and sweaty and all those other things workouts do to a body.
What was the biggest hurdle to working out and how did you get over it? I felt like an outsider in fitness communities. I had been a sedentary kid, and was known in my family as the clumsy and awkward one. I’m still getting over the internalization of that, but I found outfits that made me feel like I “looked the part” and found that I internalized that until that became who I was or at least someone I could be.
What’s the most rewarding part of your running life? I’ve met people who will be my friends for life and I’ve found confidence I did not realize I lacked. Both of these helped me in other parts of my life.
Did you have a weight-loss goal? No. But I did lose 15-20 pounds between starting running in May and the following August. I lost about 5 dress sizes.
What kinds of changes did you make to what and how you ate? I stopped eating a lot of meat first. In the 3 years that I’ve been running, that has evolved into full-fledged veganism. I try to eat mostly whole foods—pretty much nothing processed and way-y-y-y fewer sweets than I used to (although I still have a crazy sweet tooth). I’m more conscious of consuming enough calories in a day and of the “fuel” content of various foods to power my plans.
What advice would you give to a beginner? Don’t try to sprint on your first day! I think we get it into our heads that we need to go fast—like we’re running the races we ran as kids. Then we get discouraged about our ability (or what we perceive as a lack of it). Someone told me to go at a comfortable pace for as long as I could. I did and surprised myself by how much I could do—which motivated me to see what else I could do. You won’t come back if your first experience sucks.
What are your favorite motivational quotes?
I can and I will; I will and I can.
Only those who believe in magic will find it. (Roald Dahl)
Start where you stand.
I run this body. (Dorothy Beal)
What’s your favorite piece of gear? A solid pair of compression shorts/pants and pepper spray—I never leave home without them.