Take a moment to think about this question; what are three ways running has impacted your life? Everyone's relationship with running is different, and so are the methods we use to fulfill that space for running in our lives. No matter where you are on your running journey, this sport will ultimately have an impact on us in ways we may have never imagined before. For Meagan Walker, it comes down to community, risk-taking, and persistence. We sat down with her to chat about her journey to enjoying the sport and how it takes a leap of faith to commit to trying something you maybe always believed you couldn't do.
FF: How did you find our running groups and what made you decide to start running with Fleet Feet?
MW: When I first moved here, I didn't know a ton of people and I wasn't a runner. We moved here in 2018 and in the last 8 years or so, I’ve lost about 100 pounds. I was finally to a point where I wanted to try something I couldn't do before because it wasn't physically possible. So I started running on my own. We lived in Wandermere when we first moved here, so I just ran around there. My First goal was a 5k, then a 10k, and I finally felt comfortable running with other people, so I got on Facebook and joined PNW women’s running groups. They had all these sub groups in Spokane or on the west side or wherever around the state. That's how I met Sam, Kelsey, Emma, and Amy. We all lived in the same vicinity and so we would meet up and run together, and soon after we decided to sign up for the Fleet Feet Tuesday morning coffee runs. I had heard about Winter Warriors last year, but I wasn't sure about it as I had only been running for about a year. But it all started with the Tuesday morning runs and then we signed up for Winter Warriors, and here we are (Meagan was a regular attendee of our recent Winter Warriors group).
FF: What has been the best part of finding the FF running groups?
MW: The community and making more friends. My friend Charlotte joined our group later on, and so we met her since she lived near us, but it's mostly the community overall that has been the best paty. I was just talking to Sam about this the other day; the friends I hang out with the most are my running friends. If I'm not at work or school, I'm running. It's the community and meeting new people. It's really great getting together with a giant group of people who love what you do and understand your passion for it.
FF: Do you have goals where you would like to take your running?
MW: I did my first marathon last year, and I was coming off of an injury. It was the Windermere Marathon. I was injured a month before it, yet still did it. I wasn't great, but I finished. This year is the Hiawatha 50K (31.7 miles). I love trail running. I do a lot more trail running than I do road running. I’ll be running the 50k with some of my running friends; Charlotte and Barbie, and Kelsey signed up for the 25k. It’s crazy to think I’ll be doing a 50K (again, 31.7 miles!). Two years ago, I finished the Portland 1/2 marathon and a friend from the west side was there and asked if I was going to do a full marathon. I said, “heck no!” But here I am, a full marathon later and now doing a 50K.
FF: Are you going to train with us for the Windermere 1/2 marathon this year?
MW: I’m planning on it. I never really focused a ton on speed work or fartleks (or whatever you call it), and I would like to improve on my time. I was doing OK, and then I got COVID and now my times are starting to get back to where they used to be. But I would like to start focusing on time, although for a 50K, I will still be plenty happy to just finish.
FF: What is the most challenging part of running with Fleet Feet?
MW: The mornings. As much as it’s a challenge though, I do better in the mornings and I enjoy running in the mornings, I guess it’s just balancing that time with everything else going on. It's really hard for me to make the morning runs now because I have to be at school at 8am, so to drive down here, then run, then rush home and rush to get ready can get a bit stressful. So I would say balancing it with life is the challenging part, but I like the accountability of it, because it has kept me consistent with weekly runs.
FF: You said you started running because you got more fit and healthy, so why did you choose running over any of the other things you could have done?
MW: Because it seemed the most challenging I think.
FF: It sounds like facing a challenge inspires you. Going from a half to a full marathon, and now to a 50K, is there a 50 mile run in your future?
MW: (laughed) Probably. I thought about that and I was looking into the Cascade Ultra. I like trail running so I thought maybe I should give it a try. Since my injury last year, I can finally run normal again, so I thought maybe I would stick with something closer that I could use my run pass for and do a 50K – so I chose Hiawatha with Negative Split on June 12.
FF: What would you tell somebody who wanted to join one of our training groups?
MW: Do it. At first I was intimidated because I'm not very fast and I don't know many people. I would think, “what if they are way better?” I had the wrong perception of it completely. So I would tell people that it's fun, to do it, and that you will be glad that you did!
FF: What was different from your perception?
MW: There are people of all levels and they are a lot more welcoming. I grew up in a small town, so if you weren't part of that group it was kind of awkward. I didn't expect that.
I guess it was just intimidating to put myself out there in such a large group of people I didn't know.
FF: You said you are coaching for Junior Bloomsday?
MW: (excitedly) Yes! I am a student teacher at Woodridge Elementary, I am graduating in March with my BA in elementary education, and at the school I’m at I’m coaching the Bloomsday program for the kids in April. It will be a 4 week program. We’ll do strength training and nutrition at their level, and I get to develop the program. It will be an hour after school three days a week. We’ll warm up with some strength training and they’ll run for time, not distance. I’m really excited about it.
FF: Is there anything you would like to share with us?
MW: When I went plant based on my diet I became such a stronger runner, my times got better and my endurance caught up.
FF: Was that part of your weight loss journey?
MW: I wasn’t actually. I went plant based because of a research project for school. One of my classmates suggested that we should do a plant based diet for our project, and I had watched a couple documentaries on it that sort of spurred my interest in it, but I had not looked into it. So we researched it, watched some more documentaries and did some additional research online. I was learning about how it impacts your health, can lower inflammation, help with endurance, help prevent heart diseases and assist recovery. After that I decided to try it for a week, and I felt so great I decided to keep going with it. I had struggled growing up with Acne and acid reflux, but those problems went away. I had more energy, and my endurance got better. So no, it wasn’t part of my weight loss but it definitely affected my overall health. I try to stay to whole food and plant based meals and try to minimize processed foods as much as I can.
FF: What do you do for protein?
MW: I do protein shakes with pea protein, tofu, beans, lentils and vegetables have protein too. You can find substitutes for almost anything nowadays too which really helps.
Meagan is still heavily engaged in our training groups, and is currently helping out as a mentor for our Half Marathon Distance Group in Spokane. For more information on training groups, getting connected or simply running with us from time to time, please visit this page.