Mirna Valerio is an African American woman who grew up in Brooklyn and in high school she played lacrosse and field hockey. She never considered herself a runner, but used running to help her get better at her sports. “I realized that I loved getting up early and running,” she recalls. “There was something about running that I learned to love.”
While she was focusing on her career as a teacher and as a mother in her 20’s, fitness took a back seat to just dealing with the challenges of everyday life.
“My son was sick a lot, which meant I was sick a lot,” she continues. “I felt like I was constantly stressed out. I was gaining weight and my diet was not good.”
Her wake -up call came when she was in her early 30’s when she thought she was having a heart attack. It wasn’t a heart attack, but her doctor told her that if she didn’t change her lifestyle, she wasn’t going to live very long.
So in 2009 she decided to get back into running and, after running a number of 5Ks and 10Ks, she signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon.
That led to the creation of her Fat Girl Running blog.
“When I went online and looked at running blogs, I didn’t see very many people who looked like me” she admits. “There were a lot of skinny people who talked about running, but not a lot of big people.
I figured there had to be other people like me out there who could enjoy the sport of running, so I decided to share my training and my challenges as I prepared for my first marathon.”
The blog touched a nerve and before you knew it, Mirna had become the Mirnavator and people who might have felt that running was not a sport for them, started to change their minds.
Mirna had started to change perceptions for the better. “I wanted people of all sizes and colors to feel that if I could train for and complete a marathon, so could they. When you see that it’s possible, you believe that it’s possible.
People were reaching out and telling me that, after reading my blog, they were training to walk their first ever 5K.”
So what was it like to finish her first marathon? “I’m not a crier,” she says, “but when the Marines put that medal around my neck, I bawled.”
Since then she has completed multiple marathons including the 2018 Boston Marathon in the pouring rain, finished a 100K, took on a Tough Mudder race, been on the cover of Women’s Running Magazine, and her story was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Runner’s World and on NBC Nightly News.
Mirna raced Boston as part of the Hyland’s team, is now a global ambassador for Merrell, an ambassador for Skirt Sports and her new book is called A Beautiful Work in Progress.
Mirna Valerio is a living, breathing example that running is indeed for everyone.
So what are you waiting for?
Look through our current issue of RACEPLACE, commit to an event and let us know how it goes.
I guarantee that your life will never be the same!