Melissa Kahn hung up on her friend who had just challenged her to run a half marathon.
“I had recently lost 110 pounds and thought my hard work was done. Until her phone call,” Kahn remembers. The next day, however, she changed her mind, called her friend back and reluctantly agreed to run the Phoenix half marathon.
“My defining moment was when I realized obesity and inactivity would eventually kill me,” recalls Kahn, who describes herself as a “lifelong foodaholic” and struggled with a dysfunctional childhood. She initially chose running over other sports like swimming, yoga and biking. (Now, she also bikes, swims and weight trains.)
“The running community, in my experience, is by far the most inclusive community,” she says. “All you have to do to belong, is run. You can run quickly, you can run slowly, or somewhere in between, but we are all one group. This is by far the most helpful group of folks I have ever met.”
It’s been quite a journey for Kahn. “I am a lot stronger than I ever imagined, internally and physically,” she says. “I struggle every minute of every day, but I have learned that I am not a quitter.”
On social media, Kahn is now among the sport’s most positive ambassadors, serving as an inspiration to other runners. She is well known for her Run, Heifer, Run website and using her last name for the word “can.” Her website serves as a digital meeting place for her community of runners looking for support, tips and a place to celebrate personal victories.
“My pre-fitness self would think it was a pipe dream,” she says. “Ten years ago if you would’ve told me I’d be here today, in this state of mind and fitness, I would never have believed you.”
And, certainly, her former self would not believe that she could 5Ks, much less do a triathlon.
“My proudest moment was a triathlon in the Himalayan mountains,” Kahn says. “It provided me with quite a few challenges, as you could imagine. And in the end I was disqualified for not completing the biking portion, but just the fact that I showed up to the start line, and did my best, I truly believe, is my proudest moment. My children were proud of me, and in my eyes that’s what matters.”
Runners of all shapes, sizes and experiences follow Kahn — and look to her for inspiration and guidance. For those looking to lose weight and begin an exercise program, like she did, Kahn offers advice.
“START — it’s that simple,” she says. “It is a switch that you must flip on in your brain. Just start, the rest will sort itself out.”
Name: Melissa Kahn
Number of years running: Four years
How many miles a week do you typically run: Six miles
Point of pride: New lifestyle
Favorite race distance: 10K
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Pizza
Favorite piece of gear: SheFit sports bra and Aftershokz headphones
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: Remember the name by FtMinor
Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: HANDLE YOUR SHIT
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
• Website: www.runheiferrun.com
• Twitter: melissakahn7 on
• Facebook group: Run, Heifer, Run!
• Instagram: @runheiferrun