A Reason to Run
Kelly Roberts lost her brother, Scott, suddenly in 2009. For Roberts, it was an emotionally draining and challenging time. She gained 60 pounds and desperately needed an outlet to work out her grief.
She found running, and has turned it into a way to help others laugh and smile. “It’s been invaluable for me as I grieve his loss,” she says. “It’s been six years and there still are days that feel like it happened yesterday. But a dose of endorphins always helps when I am feeling down. Running is the easiest way for me to be alone with my thoughts so it’s nice to go for a run and feel closest to him whenever I am felling sad.”
From Grieving to Laughing on the Run
Her personality shines through. The self-professed “giant ham” loves to make people happy. “When I lost my brother I got my first dose of mortality and I realized that you can’t waste time,” Roberts says. “You can’t sit back and wait for things to happen for you or for doors to open. You have to make your own doors or burn them down. I think life can be unbearably difficult and laughter is the best medicine.”
Running, it seems, has helped Roberts find the strength to lift up others.
“I would be lying if I told you that running hasn’t made me an even more positive person,” she says. “But I’m consistently drunk on endorphins and running around feeling empowered and confident. I now have this opportunity to inspire people while making them laugh which for me is the reason I continue to do it.”
Her love of inspiring people, passion for running and the trend of self-photography all converged nicely to produce Run, Selfie, Repeat last year.
The Run, Selfie, Repeat Movement
Roberts decided to run the 2014 New York City Half Marathon on a whim.
“I was really worried about being able to finish so I came up with the idea to take my mind off the race and make my friends laugh during the process,” she recalls. “Then the selfies went viral and the #RunSelfieRepeat movement was born.
I love runfies (running selfies) because it’s a way to share your process. Running a half marathon or getting active is terrifying and difficult and having a support system makes every step easier. It’s pretty incredible to go through the hashtag and see the amount of people out there really going after a goal. It motivates me to keep chasing mine and now we have this community of people who don’t have to do it alone.”
Kelly is certain that Scott, looking down from above, approves of the Run, Selfie, Repeat movement.
“I think my brother would have found the #RunSelfieRepeat movement and running selfies hilarious,” she says. “I can’t help but think about him every time I run so I always feel like he’s right there with me. I actually was looking around at the end of the New York City Marathon last year because I felt like he was running next to me. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences and I lost it when I crossed the finish line. I like to think he’s always out there with me laughing every step of the way.”
Roberts says all of the men who she captures in the runfies have been good sports. “The most interesting reaction was from one of the guys from the NYC Half,” she says. “I wasn’t great at engaging with comments on Instagram so my sister would do it for me and he actually tracked my sister down and asked her out on a date!”
Getting of the Couch
But before her runfies became a thing, Roberts had to take action to get up off the couch and commit to a healthier lifestyle in the wake of her brother’s death.
“I didn’t recognize the girl I saw in the mirror,” she says about putting on 60 pounds. “But I made the choice that I wasn’t happy and I was going to do something about it. I learned about proper portion sizes and for six months I ate lean proteins, fruits, and veggies. I started going to the gym regularly starting on a stationary bike for 30 minutes a day. There’s no secret to weight loss. If you eat proper portion sizes, healthy foods, and work out regularly you will slowly lose weight and keep it off.
I love Doritos as much as the next person but I feel so much happier and more energetic when I limit the amount of processed foods I have. I save them for special occasions.”
Roberts has struggled with her weight and perception of herself for a long time. Now, she has set aside the fad diets and weight-loss gimmicks, and is proud of what she sees in the mirror.
“Running was the last piece of the puzzle and it helped me bury my insecurities with my weight,” she says.
The First Step to Weight Loss
Roberts encourages others who want to lose weight but haven’t been able to take the first critical step.
“The first step is the hardest but you aren’t alone,” she says. “Your weight or your past doesn’t define you. You only have one thing promised in life and that is today so ask yourself what can I do today to be the best me possible. If you don’t feel like your best, do something about it and take the first step. Make a goal and start working toward it.”
Roberts understands that not everyone can commit to running for a long period of time. However, everyone can benefit from setting a running goal and working to achieve it.
“Now if you want to be a runner, anyone who tells you that running is easy is a liar,” she says. “Falling in love with running is hard and it’s painful. But that’s what makes it so rewarding!”
She recommends finding a training plan and committing to it. Or join a charity team and run a half marathon with them. When it comes to the training, “Focus only on the day at hand and work your way toward your goal one step at a time. Once you get past the first few weeks or months, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your runs. The hardest part is getting out the door but there will never be a right time to do it. You just have to commit and take a leap of faith.”
For those who have deeper — or longer — aspirations, Roberts has an encouraging reply ready.
“I always ask people who tell me they want to run a marathon, ‘What are you waiting for? Just do it already!’ You’ll never succeed if you don’t dare to fail. So join the #RunSelfieRepeat movement. Show the world that you are in the driver’s seat of your life and you are living every moment for something incredible.”
Name: Kelly Roberts
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Number of years running: A little over two years.
Miles per week: About 20 during the wonderful winter.
Point of pride: Sticking with running when I was getting started. I can’t believe I made it through that first month.
Favorite distance: Half marathon.
Favorite pre-race training food/drink: Multi-grain everything bagel.
Favorite inspirational song to run to: “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce
Favorite inspirational mantra or saying: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”- Marianne Williamson
Where can other runners connect or follow you? I can be found on my blog www.RunSelfieRepeat.com, or on Instagram and Twitter via @KellyKKRoberts
Any chance on Kelly being interviewed for the MTA podcast?
Yes Ann, we’re open to that possibility.
“You’ll never succeed if you don’t dare to fail.” That quote is going into my “mantra file.”
I keep a “mantra file” too.
What’s the social etiquette in terms of taking selfies during races? I think running selfies are a cool idea, but I don’t want to distract or hold up other runners.
I’m guessing that most of these guys don’t know they are in the shot.