Home Fitness guide How Running Changed Me – Alexandra Santos

How Running Changed Me – Alexandra Santos


Courtesy of Alexandra Santos

Last name: Alexandra Santos
Age: 34
Hometown: Jackson Heights, New York
Occupation: Physiotherapist assistant and holistic health and wellness coach
Start weighing: 179 pounds
Final weight: 109 pounds
Execution time : 1 year and 4 months

I had struggled with weight since high school – constantly trying new diets, losing the same 10-15 pounds, then gaining it back. I was very lethargic the whole time and was out of breath walking up the stairs. The long walks were strenuous and I found a ton of excuses to avoid a physical activity that I feared I couldn’t do. My blood pressure was high and my self-esteem was low.

I also treated infertility problems. My husband and I wanted to start a family, and shortly before getting married, we decided to do fertility tests. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and told I was infertile. We were told that in vitro fertilization (IVF) would be our best chance of having children. So, in 2019, we went through IVF twice. I got pregnant twice and had miscarriages both times. I hit rock bottom and depression set in.

For my mental and emotional health, we decided to take a step back from fertility treatments and focus on travel for 2020, but the pandemic had other plans. I hit my peak weight of 179 pounds after months of being locked up in the house. In July 2020, I was 32, I decided something good had to come out of 2020. I wanted to be the healthiest version of myself for resuming fertility treatments. Not just for me, but also for our future babies.

I’ve found Beachbody 30 Day Escape Program, a running and strength training program. Its purpose was to walk you through strength training and guided runs with the goal of running a 5K on day 30. I hated running (or so I thought) but my friend convinced me to give it a try . I did my first run on October 5, 2020, and I haven’t stopped since. I fell in love with it from the first week of the program.

After completing the program, I continued to incorporate running into my fitness routine and ran three days a week. My mileage ranged from nine to 15 miles per week. I used Jeff Galloway’s Training Plans for a half marathon, and I’m currently using Run4PRs Marathon Training Plan. During the pandemic, I participated in several virtual 5Ks. My first in-person race was at Walt Disney World and I ran the 5k, 10k, and half marathon (my first race of that distance) for three consecutive days.

Alexandra’s essential equipment

Altra running shoes (Paradigm 6 and Provision 6): No break-in necessary! I used a new pair of these shoes for my first 5K and 10K in person (back to back) and my feet felt amazing afterwards. I even ran a half marathon the next day with no problems. (Editor’s note: Runner’s World generally recommends against running with new gear.)

FlipBelt Classic Running Belt: This running belt is super comfortable and has all the essentials without the bouncing I’ve experienced with other belts. It also fits water bottles specifically designed for hydration during long runs.

Shokz Openrun Bone Conduction Headset: These headphones are not designed to be in your ears, so I can still hear traffic and be aware of my surroundings while running and stay safe.

Honey Stinger Waffles, Gels and Bars: Honey Stinger uses nature’s sweetener in its products. It provides sustained energy for my runs. I use the waffles before the run, the gels during my run, and the cracker bars after my run.

I also changed my eating habits and followed the 80/20 rule for nutrition: I eat 80% whole foods and 20% processed foods. I eat mainly vegetables and make sure I have protein at every meal. I also incorporate fiber-rich carbs. Pizza and pasta are my go-to for carb loading before runs and long runs. This year, I’d like to experiment with going vegetarian for six months to see how it will affect my training and progress as a runner.

According to my current training plan and schedule, I run four times a week. I’m training for what will be my first marathon on January 30, 2022. My future running goals include running an ultramarathon, running the New York City Marathon, and completing the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in 2023 (four consecutive days of running : 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon).

These three tips helped make my running journey a success.

1. Engage the right people in your goals

    Accountability is such an amazing gift. When I told my closest friends about my goals, they made sure to cheer me on. The days when I lack motivation, they remind me of my goals and how proud I will be when I achieve them.

    2. Make Long Prints Productive

    I’m a big fan of personal development, so I listen to audiobooks on my long runs. Look for the good things that can come out of a long run instead of focusing on other things you could be doing.

    3. Run for yourself

    It can be easy to get caught up in the validation of others. Remember why you started running and why you love it. When you run for yourself, you don’t lose the joy of running.

    I lost 70 pounds and it took about 9 months.

    My weight loss journey has changed my life! I feel better in my thirties than ever in my life. I no longer have high blood pressure and my menstrual cycles are normal for the first time without medication. I feel energized every day and feel blessed to have the opportunity to share my health journey and running journey with others.

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