Name: Mary Jane Grier
Age: 31
Hometown: New York, New York
Occupation: Nurse Practitioner
Time Running: 8 years
Reason for Running: It brings me joy and makes me feel my best mentally and physically. I also love a challenge!

I really got into running because of the same organization that led me to becoming a nurse. I went to the University of Iowa for undergrad, and while there, I was very active in a student organization called Dance Marathon.

Dance Marathon is a nonprofit organization that provides financial and emotional support to the children and their families that have been diagnosed with cancer at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The University of Iowa Dance Marathon is one of the official charities of the Chicago Marathon, and in 2014, I went and cheered on some of my friends who were running. I was so amazed that the next year, I fundraised with Dance Marathon and ran the 2015 Chicago Marathon.

More From Runner's World
preview for HDM All Sections Playlist - Runners World US

After crossing the finish line that first time, I was hooked! I was running for kids who can’t. I dedicated each mile to a different family, many of whom I had the privilege of getting to know personally. The crowd cheering you on the entire race just creates such a palpable energy! It was emotional and truly life changing. I’ve been running ever since.

I went from rarely running straight into marathon training. I did many other forms of exercise before, but until that first marathon, I wouldn’t have called myself a “runner.”

Thankfully, by running with a charity, I was set up for success with knowledgeable coaches and a training plan that I still use today. I also have cousins that are marathon runners/trainers that I was able to get some great advice from in the beginning of my training journey.

I run with the Nike Run Club app to track my distances. I have now ran the Chicago Marathon multiple times, the Cape Cod Marathon once, and the Cape Cod virtual half marathon with my dad twice.

Running has also inspired my work. I am a NICU nurse practitioner in a Level IV NICU. We take care of about 60 babies. Our patients can be extremely premature and/or have a large range of medical needs that require specialized intensive care. As a nurse practitioner, we also attend high-risk deliveries to provide care for the baby. Each baby, no matter how small, is born with such personality. It is incredible to witness the tiniest of humans when they are born and then graduate from our unit out into the world for the first time. Taking care of our babies is incredibly rewarding and I wanted a way to give back to my patients that make my career so meaningful.

So this year, I am running the New York City Marathon for the nonprofit, March For Babies. I have been wanting to run the NYC Marathon through a charity since moving to the city back in 2020, and what better charity than the one that impacts my patients?

We get to share in the happiness of huge triumphs, but we also share the immeasurable losses. I have been able to see in our unit and in the community, the impactful work that March of Dimes does for our babies and their families. Our patients mean the world to me and I am so grateful to run for an organization that supports them.

Because of my work schedule, my running schedule needs to be flexible and forgiving. I work mostly nights and weekends, so I have to be able to adjust my runs to fit into my life. I try to pick a day of the week that will work for my long runs throughout marathon training and then build my training and work schedules around that.

I am also going to be doing some runs and training with a group this summer. I have never ran with a group, so I am interested to see what it is like.

I am very excited to run the NYC Marathon this fall. I am also running the Cape Cod Half Marathon this fall with my dad again. Beyond that, my main goal is to run all six World Marathon Majors.

Running has completely changed my life! It has taught me to love and appreciate all that my body can do. It has led me to have a positive relationship with food and nourishing my body. It is my moving meditation that helps me stay in a positive place mentally. It is something that helps me bond with my dad and so many others. Running has been another outlet to make me feel accomplished and fulfilled. On top of that, it just makes me happy to run races. I literally will smile the entire 26.2 miles.

These tips have helped make my running journey a success:

1. Create your vibe

Not every run is going to feel amazing, and that’s okay. But set yourself up to feel positive and motivated. I listen to upbeat music that makes me want to move. I even watch Tom Brady YouTube videos sometimes before a run to get me hyped up and motivated to “earn it.” (I’m a huge Tom Brady and Patriots fan!)

2. Find your fuel

If I eat a salad then go for a run, my stomach will hurt the entire time. I eat a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey before a long run, and it never upsets my stomach!

3. Be safe and smart

I always tell someone when I am going on a long run in the city and what time I should be back. I try not to run at night or in poorly lit areas. (I have scars on my knees from tripping in the dark.) I always have my phone and usually run with a water bottle.

4. Don’t take it too seriously

For other runners looking to start a running journey, just start where you’re at and be proud of that! It took me a while to start enjoying running my first summer training. Some runs just felt so long and overwhelming. Now I just put my headphones on and enjoy my time. And even now on a long run, it can take me a couple miles before I settle into my rhythm. Some days are going to be so bad you just have to laugh. Running the Cape Cod Marathon in 2019, it was absolutely pouring and there were gale force winds. We were getting hit by waves on the road! You just had to accept it wasn’t going to be your best race and enjoy it. It was such bad weather I couldn’t help but laugh and smile the whole race.

Mary Jane’s Must-Have Gear

Fit Radio: Fit Radio is my ultimate secret weapon for running. They have 45 minute-plus workout mixes that stay at certain beats per minute. Nothing is worse than flipping through trying to find a song you want to listen to while running. With these mixes, I put one on and don’t have to think about it again. And they are just fabulous mixes. I cannot recommend this app enough!

Nike Tempo Luxe 2-in-1 Running Shorts: These are my favorite running shorts. They are just so comfortable and they don’t ride up.

GU Energy Gel With Caffeine: I love the GU with caffeine. I love most things with caffeine, but I really feel a burst of energy after I eat one. They taste great and are easy to eat while running. I usually take one every six miles on long runs.

Zensah Running Leg Compression Sleeves: I love these compression socks without the feet. I wear them to work and on long runs. I love that I get to wear my own comfortable sock with them.

We want to hear how running changed you! Send your story and submit your photos to us via this form. We’ll pick one each week to highlight on the site.

This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.