Kelly Chandler has loved running since the first grade. She started alongside her father, and it quickly turned into her lifestyle when she was growing up. She was part of her junior high and high school track and field teams and frequently participated in street races. Competing in a triathlon is on her bucket list.
A runner at heart, Kelly sprints her way to her best health and well-being. She also enjoys involving her children in her routine. She’s passed her love of running to her two daughters – Kayla, 12, and D’Anna, 6.
“I try to make fitness a fun part of my weekly routine and not another ‘must-do’ item I check off my list,” she says. “When I have the ‘this is fun’ mentality, running is relaxing and a great way to relieve stress. This attitude causes my daughters to want to run with me on the track in the evening, and we have a good time laughing and cheering for each other.”
The trio especially enjoys participating in 5K fun runs. They’ve ran in the Color Run in State College, Pa., the Bubble Run in Eugene and the recent Foam Glow Run in Portland. Kelly says that these runs are not about setting a personal record, but having fun while being active.
“I’m active because I want to be physically and mentally healthy for myself and my daughters,” Kelly says. “Fun runs are a great atmosphere, especially for young or new runners to not feel intimidated but to just get out there and run!”
Still, as a single mom, finding time to be active is a challenge. She also still deals with exertion migraines she’s endured since being in a car accident during graduate school. After the accident, running brought on these deliberating headaches, even causing hospitalization. Kelly was discouraged and feared giving up the sport she loves most.
Through many years of doctors and treatments, she’s finally been able to find a medication she takes prior to running that prevent migraines. “It is such a blessing to be able to run again,” she says. “I’m trying to get myself back in shape to be able to run at the speed and distance I used to, or at least close to that. I want to run another marathon in the next two years.”
Kelly says that her priorities in life have shifted. She used to put work before her health, and in the end both would suffer when she didn’t work out for long periods of time.
“Now, I really try to prioritize my health,” she says. “Working out is on my calendar and I treat it like an appointment that I cannot miss. I also have learned how to improvise. For example, although I would like to go on trail runs, I often have to run on the middle school track so I can supervise my daughters as they run at their own pace and distance.”
Staying active fuels Kelly for the important things in life, including her family. She’s also able to work through ideas for manuscripts, grant proposals or classroom activities when she’s running. The occasional ice cream treat – especially chocolate peanut butter flavored – may also play a role.
“Working out helps me deal with stress and puts me in a good mood,” she says. “I feel like I can accomplish anything after a good run.”