By Sarah Bowen Shea
Updated: April 01, 2007
Brown W. Cannon III

Brown W. Cannon IIILooking at Jenny Hadfields trim, well-toned figure, youd never guess she graduated college 30 pounds overweight. She began running when coworkers talked her into doing a 5K race with them.

“I was beaten by a 72-year-old man. It wasnt a pretty finish, but it was a finish,” says Chicago-based Hadfield, now 40. “From that point on, I was hooked.”

She eventually graduated to running 10Ks, then half-marathons and marathons. Along the way, she became a coach and author of such books as Running for Mortals.

“I went from struggling to run down the street to running the Boston Marathon,” Hadfield says. “You just never know what kind of runner is inside of you.”

Helping you find the runner within is now part of Hadfields regular job as coach of Healths Girls Gotta Move Running Club, which has convinced more than 27,000 women to hit the road since its launch in April 2006—and no wonder: Running incinerates nearly 700 calories per hour (based on a 150-pound woman going 6 mph), lifts your mood, relieves stress, and lowers your blood pressure. It also boosts your confidence when you set and reach a goal, like doing a 5K or 10K race.

Ready to join the club? Read on for inspiration for your run around the block or that race you want to conquer.

Next Page: A tremendous way to help others [ pagebreak ]Brown W. Cannon IIIWhy I run: “Its a tremendous way to help others.”
Miranda Raoof, 49, Los Angeles

Many women run for the physical benefits, but not Miranda Raoof, an assistant prin-cipal in the Los Angeles Unified School District. “Running is calming,” she says. “It keeps me at peace with myself.”

Raoof even credits running with helping her get through a divorce in 1995. “When your bodys in motion, you dont concentrate on the negative things. Youre moving forward, your thoughts are forward. I didnt think about the divorce or my ex-husband.”

Raoof began running in 1996 and finished her first marathon the next year. It took her more than six hours—and for good reason: She was accompanying Los Angeles children with a program called Students Run L.A. “It was indescribable when I realized the magnitude of what had been accomplished. Not only had I done it, but the kids had as well.”

Raoof has run the marathon with students every year since then. She credits her success to the slower pace, noting that she never trains but routinely runs three miles or less, three days a week. “I dont overdo it. Its OK to go slow,” says the mother of four daughters, three of whom have run past marathons with her.

In January 2006, Raoof went solo, run-ning the Orange County Marathon to raise money for heart attack and stroke victims. “It was a tremendous feeling to help so many people,” she says.

And Raoof plans to continue running the L.A. Marathon with the students. “Run-ning makes me feel invincible,” she says.

Next Page: A total adrenaline rush [ pagebreak ]Brown W. Cannon IIIWhy I run: “Its a total adrenaline rush.”
Melissa Korby, 28, Brainerd, Minnesota

Melissa Korby (pictured right) read the Girls Gotta Move kickoff story in our April 2006 issue at her gym. She remembers seeing a quote from a runner saying that if she could run, anyone could, and thinking, “But you dont know how lazy I am.”

Still, inspired by both the story and a desire to kick her daily pack-and-a-half smoking habit, Korby joined the club and started following Coach Jenny Hadfields beginner program. She also signed up to run a Race for the Cure 5K in July 2006, knowing that shed never be able to complete it if she kept smoking. “Whenever I tried running before, Id overdo it, but the Walk-to-Run plan helped me ease into it,” says Korby, a Minnesota Department of Transportation employee. “I was able to replace a bad habit with a good one. And I couldnt believe how much my body recovered after even just the first week of not smoking.”

Korby finished the Race for the Cure in a little more than 32 minutes—10 minutes faster than her three pre-race practice runs. “It was an amazing feeling, a total adrenaline rush.”

She did two more 5Ks last summer and antici-pates more this year. Now 50 pounds lighter, Korby (at left, on the right) runs 4.5 miles every other day and has begun lifting weights.

“Running gives me a high. Its something I thought I could never do, so every time I go out, its an accomplishment,” says Korby, who now considers herself a bona fide runner. “Im not the fastest person out there, but, hey, not too long ago I was smoking and 50 pounds heavier.”

Next Page: I lost 30 pounds—and counting! [ pagebreak ]Why I run: “I lost 30 pounds—and counting!”
Michelle Begay, 38, Tucson, Arizona

In early 2005, Michelle Begay, a Navajo, was well on her way to becoming one of the 27 percent of Native Americans in the southern U.S. who suffer from adult-onset diabetes. Her mother and grand-mother both had the disease, and Begay, a police commander who rarely exercised, was showing symptoms. Determined to buck the family trend, she took up running. “It let me be outdoors, which I love,” she says. “Plus, it felt like a real workout, like it would do something for me.”

When she first started, the 5-foot 8-inch mother of three weighed 199 pounds. “I was so slow and so heavy, but I could see progress,” Begay says.

That encouraged her to keep going, and she eventually increased her mileage to four to five miles several days per week. The weight started to come off, and Begay felt more energetic. By the fall, she was doing 10-mile runs—amazing, she says, considering where she started—and she ran her first half-marathon in November 2005. Down to 169 pounds by then and free of her pre-diabetic symptoms, Begay ran three more half-marathons in the next year.

She credits Girls Gotta Move for helping her physically as well as mentally. “I find the information Coach Jenny gives to be really helpful, especially about stretching and injury prevention,” Begay says. “Before, Id feel frustrated when an injury, like plantar fasciitis, kept me from running. Now run-ning gets easier each time I go out.”