This edition of our Member Spotlight features Charity Miles member Allison Odle! Hailing from a small town in western Illinois, Allison is a cosmetologist and 4-time marathon finisher! I had the opportunity to chat with Allison about how running has impacted her life for the better, covering a range of topics throughout our discussion. Check it out!
Allison’s story begins as a child when she was born into an unhealthy household. “My parents got divorced when I was young. My dad was a heavy drinker. My mom dated a lot of men. My sister and I were exposed to a lot of unhealthy behavior. It was all that we knew, it was just life for us. We were both very overweight.”
She took up running as a teenager to benefit her health. “When I was 14 I started running to lose weight. Soon it became a peaceful escape and I’ve kept running through all these years.” The following year Allison entered into a relationship with an older man. “I started talking to this guy. He was 22. I didn’t know what love was, I didn’t know what it looked like, and there entered 3 years of sexual abuse. I was in denial from that for a long time.”
Years passed and Allison continued running, completing her first marathon in 2011 and upping her mileage from that point on. “Through everything, I’ve always run. And up until the last couple of years is when I really took my health into my own hands. I have run dozens of half marathons, 4 full marathons, and 2 triathlons.” Aside from running, Allison keeps herself active in a variety of ways. “Workouts are not “typical”. I mix it up! I love running and have been a runner since I was 14, but along the way, I picked up yoga, weight lifting, cycling, and swimming. I would love to explore Crossfit. If I focus on one thing I get bored and burnt out, I need variety.”
Allison is active on social media, where she maintains a strong presence on Instagram (@ally_o_run). She keeps her followers up to date with her many fitness-related endeavors, inspiring her followers and promoting positivity while discussing many personal topics along the way. “I have my Instagram account for fitness, accountability, and human connection with other people who have similar interests. It makes me happy.”
While others may shy away from difficult topics, Allison embraces the opportunity. “I think it is important, to be honest, to be real, to be genuine. Maybe my purpose is to do exactly this. Maybe it is to show people that it is okay to be broken, it is okay to be damaged. It is okay to be who you are and you are worthy of wonderful things. Just because bad things happen doesn’t mean it will be bad forever.”
“My Instagram account is a free space to be me as a person and show my workouts. It’s a place I can connect with others and show them they too are not alone. Life is hard and we have each other. In a stressed life and very busy world Instagram is kind of my free space to share laughs, have fun, be me, and connect.”
Regarding her weight loss journey, Allison stated, “I can’t really put a number on the pounds. I think I have been the same weight and maintained that weight for years and years but my body shape has changed with eating better and lifting. Weight really is just a number. I believe if you take care of your MIND first, your body follows shortly after, and being healthy is an outfit that looks different on everyone, all depending on that individual’s needs.”
She was introduced to Charity Miles while running the Chicago Marathon two years ago. “I started using Charity Miles in the Spring of 2017 when I started training for the Chicago Marathon. I lost my dad from a sudden heart attack, he was 53. I was running on the charity team for the American Heart Association in memory of my father. During that training cycle, I lost my uncle the same way as my dad: a sudden heart attack. One of my clients has ALS so I used the ALS Association option while using the app.”
Nowadays Allison supports the charity Girl Up, as it stresses the empowerment of women throughout the globe. “I have a passion for women to have their voices heard.”
Despite having lived through some trying times, Allison looks toward the positives in life. “Overcomer is the best way I can attempt to explain myself, or fighter, or just an individual with high optimism and a high amount of hope. Strength can be a very lonely path. You either conform and try to be something that’s more acceptable or easy to take or you stand strong in what you believe, what you feel, and what you know to be true. I took things into my own hands and it was really hard and it took a lot of strength. It always does, it always will I think. Growth is not an easy thing to do. It’s not comfortable. It’s necessary. It’s hard. My faith has been such a foundation for me.”
Today Allison owns her own business, working as a cosmetologist in the same small town in which she lives. “I have 3 kids, a husband, a house, and a business and I put my body and mind as a priority.
“I am busy. I am stressed. This life is hard. I fight for health and wellness, for my family, and for myself. I choose happiness. I know that. I choose to be happy.”
You can check out Allison’s Instagram page @ally_o_run!
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