Although Faith Raymond has been relatively active all of her life, it wasn’t until a natural disaster battered her hometown that she really got into fitness.
In addition to riding horses all of her life, Faith worked as a barn manager on a horse farm for many years, where daily activities kept her mobile and engaged her muscles. But when she left that job, “I kind of let myself go a bit as far as fitness is concerned, and put on almost 20 pounds (which doesn’t sound like much, but I’m a small framed 5’2″),” she says. “It was a wake up call for me, considering I had just turned 40, and I knew that if I continued to gain weight it wasn’t going to be healthy.”
She began riding horses again and went to the gym to jumpstart a more healthy level of activity, but it still wasn’t quite enough to result in the fit lifestyle Faith had in mind.
Then, an EF3 tornado hit her small hometown of Monson, MA in 2011. There was a 5K to benefit victims with relief, and Faith wanted to participate to support her friends and neighbors who were struggling in the tornado’s aftermath. So, at age 46, she ran her first-ever 5K race – it took her around 37 minutes.
But that was just the start…
“I discovered that I really loved to run!”– Faith Raymond
Faith went on to run her first marathon just two years later, in 2013. Two years after that, she completed her first 50K, followed by a 100-mile race, which she did in 2017.
“I’ve since progressed to running 100k and 100 milers and I’ve become a running coach, embracing the older runners and runners who also started as late bloomers,” Faith says.
Bumps along the way are to be expected, and Faith has had plenty of her own. Probably the most challenging hurdle along the way was when she broke her ankle just 16 weeks before that first marathon in 2013. But she worked through that challenge with wonderful support and encouragement from her friends and family.
“When I broke my ankle, they refused to let me feel sorry for myself and were always on hand to walk with me, swim with me, and keep me looking for the silver lining. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and would not let me give anything less than my best. He was at the finish line of my first marathon, and he ran the last 12 miles of my 100k with me last year,” Faith said.
Since her first 5K, Faith has really progressed as a runner, while also improving her overall fitness and wellness. “Finding an activity that I was passionate about really helped me to stay on track. I’ve always lived an active lifestyle, but when I retired my horse in 2006 I struggled to find something to fill that space. Running did that for me, even more so when I discovered trail running a few years later,” she says.
[ Related: Trail Running Safely ]
Fitness isn’t just about running for Faith; she also needed to take a look at her nutrition in order to reduce the weight she had gained. In the past few years, she has cleaned up her diet and has been focusing on upgrading from the sweets she craves to salads and fresh fruits and veggies. She’s noticed that she now has a much healthier body composition, as a result!
“My life has taken a totally new direction since I discovered running. I realized that because I was so incredibly passionate about running and staying active later in life, I was a perfect candidate to help others get fit and reach their goals,” she says.
Faith now coaches others with running, both newbies and those who are returning to running after some time away. She is particularly excited about helping runners ages 50+ because she truly understands the challenges for more mature athletes.
[Related: Tips for Runners Over Age 50]
With her dream race coming up very soon, in July, Faith is very excited but has experienced some new challenges. She had her first DNF last fall, which has understandably shaken her confidence a bit.
“Working through that and keeping a positive mindset is what I’m currently focusing on, which is what I would tell my athlete to do as well – and I strive to be a good example.”