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Melinda Howard’s Running Journey: More Than Just For Herself

Melinda Howard's Running Journey told through How It All Started story for Run Tri Bike
Melinda Howard
Year started: 2011
Favorite gear:
  • Topo Athletic Shoes
  • Orange Mud Running Vest

In the world of endurance sports, every athlete has a unique story about how they got started and motivated to lace up their shoes and take on new challenges. For Melinda Howard, running started as a personal journey to shed a few pounds, but it soon transformed into a lifelong commitment. Melinda Howard’s running journey is filled with joy, purpose, and a dedication to bring smiles to the running community.

The Spark of Transformation

In 2011, Melinda embarked on her running journey when her sister invited her to join a “couch to 5K” program offered by Mississippi State. It was a decision that would change her life. “I was trying to drop a few pounds, and I thought that maybe that would help accelerate the process,” Melinda recalls. Her first 5K was physically challenging, as she was more than 100 pounds overweight at the time. Nevertheless, her determined and “type A” personality pushed her through the discomfort. She completed the race, and it was the spark that ignited her passion for running.

Type A Determination

Reflecting on that first race, Melinda says, “I cannot believe I didn’t do it sooner. I can’t believe I did it at all.” The pain she felt during the race didn’t deter her. Instead, it fueled her determination. She explains, “I’m kind of a type A person, and come hell or high water, we’re going to get this thing done. That’s just how it goes.”

Running Partners

Crossing the finish line of her first 5K was a transformative moment for Melinda. She was hooked and ready to take on more significant challenges. Her husband, who had been a runner for most of their 39 years of marriage, supported her during her early running journey. He played a crucial role in her training, even dancing and singing to motivate her up the hills during runs.

Melinda’s journey from her first 5K to participating in marathons, including the Berlin Marathon, and ultramarathons, was not a linear path. It was filled with determination, training, and a passion for running. Her husband was there every step of the way, from running races with her to joining her in Berlin for their 30th wedding anniversary trip, creating unforgettable memories along the way.

Aiden: The Turning Point

Melinda’s running journey took a significant turn when she became a buddy through the “I Run 4” program, where runners are matched with individuals who can’t run due to various limitations. In 2015, Melinda was matched with Aiden, a young boy from the Detroit suburbs. The connection was instantaneous, and she describes it as “instant love.” Her running took on a new meaning as she became Aiden’s dedicated running buddy.

Running for Someone Else

When asked about the transition from focusing on her personal running goals to running for Aiden, Melinda shares, “It no longer is about you.” Her commitment to Aiden and the fulfillment she gets from being his running partner have become the driving force behind her running journey. Melinda’s running is no longer just a personal endeavor; it’s an act of love, encouragement, and selflessness.


Empowering All Athletes

Melinda’s story serves as an inspiring example for athletes of all sizes. Her message to those who may be intimidated by the idea of starting their running journey while being in a larger body is clear: “It’s very doable. Is it going to hurt? Yeah, it’s going to hurt. But you can do it.” She emphasizes the importance of patience and self-acceptance, as well as the need to disregard the opinions of others.

Support from the Running Community

Throughout her running journey, Melinda has learned the importance of encouragement and support from fellow runners. She fondly remembers the elite athletes in her running group who welcomed her with open arms. Their kindness and support have inspired her to pass it on to others and motivate them through her social media presence.

Finding Joy in the Journey

As Melinda reflects on her running journey, she emphasizes the significance of the running community’s support. She encourages runners to find joy in their journey, appreciate their progress, and not be overly concerned with numbers. Melinda’s passion for running is rooted in the relationships she has built and the love she shares with Aiden. When you add in the encouragement she receives from fellow runners, running becomes filled with joy.

Melinda Howard’s Running Journey and Legacy

Melinda Howard’s running journey showcases the joy that can be found in a sport that brings people together. Her story reminds us that running is not just about personal achievements. It’s about the connections we make and the impact we can have on others’ lives. Melinda’s commitment to running for something bigger than herself is a beautiful example of the positive change we can create through our passions.