Still Running after Parkinson’s and Brain Surgery – Interview with Rhonda Foulds

Rhonda Lee Foulds

Rhonda Lee Foulds

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I met Rhonda Foulds at the starting line of the A2A Marathon in Ardmore, Oklahoma, earlier this this year. We later became Facebook friends and she has become one of my biggest sources of inspiration.

In this podcast episode you will hear how Rhonda, a mother of three boys, witnessed her health and fitness deteriorate due to early onset Parkinson’s Disease and was forced to stop running and doing other things she loved.

In the years that followed she became very tired and depressed, gained weight, and needed wheelchair assistance.

In 2003 Rhonda underwent a procedure called “DBS” (Deep Brain Stimulation) which places electrodes in certain areas of the brain to block the signals of Parkinson’s.

The surgery was a success and she began to reclaim her health and fitness one mile at a time. She has lost close to 100 pounds, gone from thirty-three medications to zero and has now completed over eighty half marathons, eighteen full marathons and two ultras.

Rhonda is proof that you really do have what it takes to run a marathon and change your life!

Interview Questions for Rhonda Foulds

  1. Around 15 years ago you were training for your first marathon and started to have some complications with your training. What symptoms were you experiencing at the time? How long did it take to get the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease? What was it like being the mother of three young boys and be facing something like that?
  2. For those who aren’t familiar with Parkinson’s Disease tell us about what people typically experience?
  3. By 2003 your life had significantly changed. Tell us about what life was like at that time? How hard was it to go from being an active person to being confined to a wheelchair and taking multiple medications every day?
  4. When did you first go through the process of having Deep Brain Stimulation? Tell us about what this is and when you had it done? What does having a DBS system inserted involve?
  5. What was the catalyst for beginning your running journey again and what year did you start?
  6. How many half and full marathons have you completed since that time?
  7. Last April you got to run the Boston Marathon after being unable to finish after the bombing in 2013. What was it like to run Boston?
  8. Earlier this year you had to have another brain surgery to replace your DBS system. Walk people through that experience. How did your recovery go?
  9. You just ran your first marathon post-surgery in Fort Worth. How many days after the surgery was this race? Talk about your training and what the experience was like for you.
  10. We’re friends on FB and one of the things I like most about you is your positive attitude. What are your sources of inspiration? What is your motivation for staying strong on the days when your body just isn’t cooperating? Do you have any good kick-butt mantras?
  11. Talk to the person who is struggling with either chronic illness or injury. What advice would you have for them?

Also Mentioned in this Episode

The Maffetone Method
Making sense your ideal heart rate zone can get really confusing with all the different calculators out there. I think the main thing is to find one that makes sense to you and stick with it.

I use the Maffetone Method for calculating Zone 2 and use this for all my easy workouts. Because I don’t like to worry too much about numbers I don’t do heart rate training for speed work or hills. With Maffetone you take your age subtracted from 180 for the upper heart rate for Zone 2.

The Maffetone Method was developed by physician Phil Maffetone 30 years ago to help athletes burn more fat, balance exertion levels and reduce chronic inflammation that can come from training at a high level. For more information on how to calculate your Zone 2 heart rate zones visit:

4 Responses to Still Running after Parkinson’s and Brain Surgery – Interview with Rhonda Foulds

  1. Kyle Boise December 17, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    Hey! That’s my momma! She’s a crazy awesome lady and I love her so so much. She is my biggest hero, she has a huge heart and so much intestinal fortitude. Mom is always out to help others and does her very best to be a good and loving person.

    • Angie Spencer December 18, 2014 at 8:08 am #

      Hi Kyle. You are very blessed to have such an awesome mom. I know she’s very proud of you as well. Happy Holidays!

  2. Mary March 5, 2015 at 7:42 am #

    Listened to this while getting ready for work. WOW what a great way to start your day! I am so inspired and so thankful to have heard Rhonda’s story! If you read this Rhonda you are amazing! I always am so thankful for people who inspire others by loving life and never giving up!! Thank you Angie and Trevor for bring this story to us! I am amazed by the strength and beauty of the human spirit. Have a great day!

    • Angie Spencer March 5, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

      Hi Mary. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you enjoyed our interview with Rhonda. She is an inspiration to stay positive and never give up. All the best as you pursue your running goals!

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