February 21 2018
Karen Lyons started running to escape hardship–and couldn’t stop.
Brunei Darussalam, Southeast Asia
In my teens, I struggled with symptoms of a heart condition. When I was 21, after six years in and out of doctors’ offices, I was finally diagnosed. My cardiologist prescribed beta-blockers to help regulate my heart’s rhythm and immediately suggested that I adopt a more active lifestyle.
At that point in my life after being diagnosed with the heart condition, I had blood pressure issues and was overweight, so it was just the push that I needed to take getting moving seriously. I had never run before in my life, but I made a goal to get outside for 30 minutes three times a week.
At first, I could barely run half a mile before I had to slow down and rest. But it’s amazing how quickly your body adapts. After about three months, I could run a full 5K without stopping. That year I lost about 22 pounds and felt better than ever.
A few months ago, for the first time since my heart condition diagnosis, I was able to get off the beta blockers thanks to my newfound fitness. When I left the doctor’s office, I was chanting out loud, “I’m free!” I recently ran my first 10K, which intimidated me at first, but after I crossed the finish, I knew I could go even farther. I’m planning to run a half marathon (or maybe even a full!) someday.
Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t start to run earlier. It’s amazing to find something you’re passionate about that transforms your body and your life.
MY BEST ADVICE: MAKE IT AN ADVENTURE!
I like to run outside. Whether it’s a busy city street or nature trail, focusing on my surroundings makes the workout breeze by.