Found on RunnersWorld.com
NAME Samantha Ganninger
OCCUPATION Student, residential advisor, and ALMOST a yoga instructor at the University of Missouri
HOMETOWN Saint Peters, Missouri
FAMILY Mom (Terri) and a dog named Bear
What prompted you to start working out?
I was over 260 pounds in October of 2013 and going through a break up. Initially, I began losing weight because I didn’t want my weight to be the reason why someone wouldn’t want to get to know me. The more results I began to see, the more focused I became on myself and not the opinions of others.
How did you start?
One day I decided enough was enough. All it took was a moment for me to walk out of my apartment and down to the tiny gym that my complex provided. I got on an elliptical and went for a mile and a half, and then as each day progressed I challenged myself to go a little farther. Once I felt that I needed more of a challenge, I moved onto the treadmill. Then I decided to go outside, and the rest is history.
Describe your regular workout routine.
It varies- For about 6 months, I was streaking (the runner streak, not the naked) in addition to marathon training. I also practice yoga everyday. I like to stick to a routine because it makes me feel accountable for making sure that I get my workouts done, no matter their intensity. I have three weeks until I begin marathon training, so I’ve been sticking to my runs, yoga, and now track/speed workouts. I run in the morning and de-stress with yoga mid-day. For a college student, time management is usually difficult, but thanks to my daily ritual I’ve got it under control.
What was the biggest hurdle to working out and how did you get over it?
My biggest hurdle is something that comes and goes every one to two months. There comes a point where my weight is at a standstill, and my pace doesn’t increase. It’s this weird limbo that makes every run feel a little harder and every distance seem greater. It takes a few days, but something inside of me clicks, and I somehow push through it. I think determination is my biggest ally when I get into these weird runner funks. I subconsciously have to tell myself “Sam. YOU. CAN. DO. THIS. Look how far you’ve come.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your running life?
Inspiring others and making my mom proud. When I started running in October 2013, I jokingly told my mom that I was going to become a professional half marathoner- because 26.2 sounded like an insanely impossible distance (I’m currently looking into ultra marathons, to give you an idea of how my runner mentality is now shaped). That same month she qualified for Boston. As I started building endurance, my body began to change and people began taking notice. I posted a Before/After picture and suddenly the social media world opened up and I began receiving emails from people around the country- saying how proud they were of me, asking me for advice, and telling me that I make them feel weight loss is possible. My mom was always the runner and suddenly I was too. Both my mom and the people that have reached out to me have pushed me to challenge myself.
Did you have a weight-loss goal?
At my biggest (August 2013), I was 276 pounds. Today, I am 151 pounds and getting stronger. I used to have a 130-pound goal- but as long as I am fit, healthy, and still gaining speed the numbers don’t really matter.
What’s the secret to your weight-loss success?
I get asked this daily, and the secret is.. Ready? Watch what you eat, occasionally cave into your cravings, but stay dedicated. There are ups, downs, halts, and weeks where you lose weight, PR, AND win a race- but the uncertainty is what makes weight-loss and self-improvement so fun! One of my favorite running quotes is “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.” Through running I found passion, motivation, and taught myself how to stay dedicated to my personal goals and every mile that I have run.
What kinds of changes did you make to what and how you ate?
I started counting calories. For some, this may seem like a repetitive task that’s easy to forget, but I ritualized it just like I did my workout routine. I have been logging my food intake for over 340 days straight. At first, it was difficult- both eating right and keeping track- mainly because my diet used to consist of 4000 calories (yes, daily). Now I aim for 1500-2000 (depending on if I’m training or not). One of the biggest calorie counting lessons I learned was that if you eat more fruits and vegetables, you’ll have more calories remaining for other food. This is great because you won’t end up being hungry, or, if you’re anything like me, hangry (being angry/cranky because you’re so hungry) for a majority of the day.
What advice would you give to a beginner or someone just starting out?
Don’t give up. It’s easy to get discouraged when the scale doesn’t say what you want it to, you go a little too far off of your normal dietary plans, or an injury sets you back. There are so many factors that can make you feel like what you’re doing, or what you have done, doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes you’ll have to restart but running is a journey that helps you explore yourself and places all around you. “Every mile you have ever ran is still in you. Every workout and every race, where you pushed your limits, is engraved in your muscles. These experiences make you a runner- All the way to the bone.” You may not feel like you’re the fastest, but each PR- race or on your Garmin- is a personal victory that leads you to self-fulfillment (which can be the greatest motivator anyone needs).
What are your favorite motivational quotes?
“That’s what running does to lives. It’s not just exercise. It’s not just achievement. It’s a daily discipline that has nothing to do with speed, weight, social status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, where you live, what car you drive, or whether anyone anywhere loves you. It’s about the slow and painful process of being the best that you can be.” – Martin Dugard
“I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.”
“3.1 6.2 13.1 26.2 To some, these are just numbers. To me it’s hours of training, dedication, sweat, pain, renewal, sacrifice, perseverance, and determination.”
What’s your favorite piece of gear?
My hot pink Garmin Forerunner 10. The day I bought it was the day I felt like a real runner. I wear it everywhere-runs, class, downtown Columbia-it doesn’t leave my side.
What is your long-term goal?
My long-term goal is it keep running and challenging myself. This past year has been an amazing ride that has taught me so much about myself and all that I am capable of. I can’t wait to see where I’m a year from now- or even 10 years from now. The world is my treadmill- and I plan to run until my legs won’t let me take another step.