December 12 2017
Meet Rhonda-Marie and Steven Parke, two ultrarunners who discovered their love for each other through running.
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
ACTRESS AND CORRESPONDENT
Fitness has always been a big part of my life. But I never thought of myself as a runner until I started dating my now-husband. On one of our first dates, he suggested that we go out for what I thought was going to be a walk, but he suggested we run. In a new relationship, you always want to try new things, so I thought I might as well! I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
We’ve now been together for over a decade and have two children together. Running has turned into something special that we can share. One of our favorite things to do on weekends is to push our 2-year-old and 5-year-old in a stroller and run to our favorite breakfast spot. They’re great little motivators. They like to yell, “Faster, Mommy, faster!” And if we stop for a walk break they shout, “Run! Run!”
I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family, of course, but what I really love about running is the culture of giving back. Running 5ks for charity helps me to connect with causes I’m passionate about.
After I gave birth to my first daughter, I became hyper-aware of the struggles facing moms and kids. I’d been involved in charity work before, but having a child, I was even more driven to make the world a better place.
One of the first 5ks I did was for Susan G. Komen. We rallied a team together to support my grandmother, who’s a nearly 30-year cancer survivor. Seeing all these women coming together for a united cause while doing something that’s healthy really moved me.
I also trained for and hosted the March of Dimes’ 5k Run for Babies, the goal of which is to improve the health of infants. I am thankful I didn’t have preemies, but going through childbirth made me see the importance of prenatal care and the fact that so many women don’t have access to it. The race was amazing. When you’re running for a cause, there’s something greater than the end goal, and that’s incredibly motivating.
Because of my career (as a correspondent on Entertainment Tonight and the former host of Dancing With the Stars), there is definitely pressure to look a certain way. But even if I was never going to be in front of another camera again, I would keep running. It’s a part of my life. It helps my mental acuity and my personal betterment. Plus, it’s a way for me to give back and to be a good example for my children. After doing a race for Feeding America, I started volunteering with my older daughter at the Sova Food Pantry stocking the shelves. I hope one day she’ll do a race with me as well!
MY BEST ADVICE: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Running is intimidating! When you’re first starting, tell yourself that it’s okay to walk if you need to. If you allow yourself that pass, it’s a lot less daunting. If you do a race and have to walk, you won’t be the only one. It’s a matter of finishing—not getting there first.