Signing up for a 5K race in 2014 was part of a New Year’s resolution for Rebecca Prather but, as it turns out, her year-long commitment to running became a lifestyle change that still fuels her motivation today.
“I ran through high school but lost touch with it through college like many people do when the stress of studying and work gets in the way of personal health,” said Rebecca Prather, social worker at Akron Children’s. “In 2014 I decided it was time to get back in it. For me, the only way I knew I would stick with running was to have a plan, a goal. I decided to run 1 5k a month for a year. When I did it, I thought, ‘well now what…’”
For Rebecca, finding a reason or a ‘why’ kept her focused and kept her running.
After her successful resolution in 2014, she tried her first marathon in 2015 at the Akron Marathon and finished in 5 hours 30 minutes. She kept setting goals and running but, in 2016, she let her nutrition slip and found herself 15 pounds heavier and 11 minutes slower at the Akron Marathon than the year before.
Refining her diet and making a new plan in 2017, Rebecca ran another marathon, an ultra 50K and lined up, once again, on the blue line at the Akron Marathon. The result of her efforts? An impressive comeback run of 4 hours 33 minutes.
“For me, knowing I am signed up for the next race before I finish the one I’m lined up for motivates me and gives me something to look forward to,” she said. “I’m always looking for ways to improve and challenge myself.”
Rebecca recognizes, though, that the monetary commitment or deadline of an organized race doesn’t motivate everyone.
“I encourage people to find their why because it truly does help your head stay in it,” said Rebecca. “Running is just as much mental effort as it is physical.”
You’ll often find Rebecca on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails helping other runners reach their goals.
“I’m helping someone right now with a training plan to get him ready for his first half marathon. If I can help someone stick to a plan, to reach that goal, it makes me feel good. I really enjoy it,” she said.
Helping others inspired Rebecca’s career choice, too.
“When I was little a social worker really helped my family cope with my own medical diagnosis of epilepsy,” said Rebecca. “Doctors were concerned about me being able to walk and talk because of the damage some medications or seizures could cause. With the support of a social worker and my parents advocating for me, I have been seizure free since I was about 10. And now, I’m a social worker helping families, and I’m fortunate to be able to do it here at Akron Children’s.”
Rebecca continues to set goals for herself to stay motivated for that next big run. She’s earned a spot in the coveted Bank of America Chicago Marathon and is signed up for marathons in Akron and Toledo, two half marathons and the Akron Children’s Kids Are #1 Run, as well as her first 100-mile race in July.
“You need a support person to get you through a 5K or 100 miles. For me, it’s typically my mom and husband. They’re always at the finish and checking in on me as I train,” said Rebecca. “I did the Akron Marathon Race Series with my mom last year, which was fun, and this year I’m co-directing my first 5K at the Highland Square (Akron) PorchRokr festival…My ‘why’ for running changes year to year, but it always motivates me.”