Where do you work? Interview with Collette Wilson - Part 2

AMTA member Collette Wilson is a massage therapist as well as a runner, and now she's representing AMTA and the Massage Therapy Foundation in the 2017 Boston Marathon. 

How is her training going, and why did she decide to run? Read part two of AMTA's interview with Collette. 

Related: Read Part 1 of Collette's Interview

When did you become a runner? 

This question made me laugh out loud. The ability to run still does not come easy to me. I still stop and think to myself, “Oh my goodness, you really are a runner!" 

I began running two years ago, with the influence of who I used to call my "crazy runner friends.” At conventions, they would often ask me to join them, and my usual response was "You want me to do what, at what time, for how long? I could never keep up.” (I still can’t!) I will have to say that these people are my inspiration. I saw what running did for them, not just physically but the mental fortitude behind it all.

I have always suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety.  I also turned to prescription medications to help control that. Along with taking medications, came the weight gain, making it all even worse. I was now on blood pressure medication. I knew that to feel better, I had to live better and become more proactive and find what worked for me.

It took a lot of time to get into a routine. Running hurt a lot at first. It still does on some days, but now it is because I pushed myself further than I ever have before. That also means that I am getting stronger and closer to meeting another milestone. Believe me when I say the struggle is real, and the jury is still out on whether I love or hate running....so I keep going.

What keeps me going is because of the health benefits (mental and physical) that I see as a result. Through diet and running over the past two years, I have dropped approximately 40 pounds and am off all antidepressants and blood pressure medicines. I feel physically and mentally stronger most days. On the days that I don't, I take a look at the last time I exercised and what I have been eating and make the necessary adjustments.

The Boston Marathon is a couple months away! How is training going?  

I will not sugar-coat things. As the weeks go by in my training and my mileage is going up, it is a real struggle for me. I am embracing the struggle and accepting it as growth. Each week now is unchartered territory for me because I am reaching distances that I never have before.

With the support and guidance of my training team, I am keeping my eye on the prize. I am looking at April 17 as a day of celebration for all of the hard work and challenges that I will continue to push through. Each day that I am training, I think of all of the people who have supported me physically, mentally and financially, and that gets me through.

What motivated you to sign up for this marathon and fundraising experience?

This past year has been a tragic one for my family and me. In May 2016, our 15 year old son was killed in a motor vehicle accident. As you can imagine, I became paralyzed. Soon I was back on all medications and was finding it difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Without the support and love that I received so strongly from my AMTA family, I don't know where I would be today.

Those same "crazy runner friends" that I told you about?  They were able to help me in ways only they knew. They knew that I needed a "project" - something that I could hyper-focus on. All I knew is that there was no getting over the pain that I continue to feel every day, but I did need to find a way to move through it.  I had two choices - go to bed or keep moving.  This is when I made the commitment to begin training for my first marathon.

With help, support, and encouragement from so many, I decided to apply for the opportunity to participate in the John Hancock Marathon Program through the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF). It made sense. What better way to give back to so many who have had a hand in making my life (personally and professionally) a better one? I love raising money for MTF, and this opportunity presented itself at the perfect time.

Related: Donate to Collete & Team MTF

Part of my purpose of running for the Foundation also includes the opportunity to share my story in hope that it might help just one other person who might be dealing with some of the same challenges I have faced or perhaps one of their own.

I am so honored to have been selected along with three other runners to run on behalf of MTF. The work of the Foundation is so important. The opportunity to raise money to help fund massage therapy research and community service grants is so exciting! A year ago, while helping a friend raise money when he was running for MTF, I made the comment, "I'd do anything for MTF!"  Little did I know...

I want to thank not only the Massage Therapy Foundation for selecting me, but also the American Massage Therapy Association for choosing to sponsor me.  I am so honored to be representing two organizations that have helped elevate our profession to new and exciting levels.

Also, on a personal note, I am happy to report that I am, once again, mentally and physically strong and medication free.

Help Support Collette!

Help Collette and the Massage Therapy Foundation reach their goals by sharing this story on social media using the hashtags #BeBoston and #RunningforResearch. And donate to Collette's cause!

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"AMTA has been a tremendous resource over the years."

Jenn S., AMTA member since 1994