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Project Melany – The 5K race - 64 years in the making.

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Have you ever been at a point in your life when you’ve used all your resources and knowledge, and things just aren’t working as you’ve envisioned? Sure, we all have. It’s at this point that we make a concerted effort to either look for help, seek additional knowledge to assist in our endeavors, or continue down our own path, which usually leads nowhere.


Enter Melany, a 64-year-old professional, who has tried for years to get back in shape and shed some excess baggage, but she’s never been able to reach those goals.

In my opinion her failures were due to two reasons.

  1. The fitness methods that had worked for her in the past, just weren’t working anymore, but she failed to realize that.

  2. Her “I’m a leader”, “Not a follower” personality kept her from taking sound advice. Since she had been successful in her fitness endeavors when she was younger, she was convinced she could go it on her own, and do it her own way.

Why her attempts hadn’t worked?

They didn’t work because her body had changed, and so had she. Life had thrown up it’s own obstacles in the way of marriage, kids, and a career. Her age had something to do with her failure as well. 

Lets face facts, when we’re young we can eat anything, and pretty much do any sort of exercise to keep fit. It isn’t until were older that we find out that our “Old” workout program doesn’t quite give the same results it used to.

The reason for this is simple, your old program sucked, but it didn’t matter when you were young, because your body responded well to any sort of activity. Now that your older, it’s going to take proper nutrition and a effective workout program to get you where you want to be.

The Approach.

After watching Melany struggle for years, with this diet and that, I thought I’d intervene. I explained GOALS, and that without them; she would never realize her dream of sustained weight loss. 

Sadly she listened, but didn’t really hear me. To her credit she did start a “Paleo’ish” diet and promptly lost ten or so pounds. After the initial weight loss, she of course reached a plateau and that was that. As the months went on we spoke about “her” diet and “her” exercise program less and less. In my opinion she had never really adopted an serious exercise program and her “Paleo’ish” diet was slowly fading away, but she seemed content, so I didn’t interfere.

Then two weeks go while talking about the FTF event in February, she began to complain that she was at a standstill with her weight. I asked if she had been exercising, she said she had, but I knew better. I asked about her diet, she responded with “I eat healthy all the time”. I smiled and I spied a massive chunk of cornbread sitting on her desk, and an open “fruit in syrup cup” sitting there as well.

This is when I asked if she wanted my honest opinion. “Sure she said”. With that I responded, “Seriously, what you’re eating is not healthy, and I know you’re not working out. The whole reason you haven’t lost any more weight, is because you’re not doing what I told you to do”. 

With a resigned look she asked, “What do I do”?

I responded with,” If you want to succeed, you need to set a goal”.


The search for a goal.

We discussed what she liked to do when she was younger, and I found out that at one-point years back, she was an avid runner. So with a little persuasion, and a pep talk, I convinced her to enter a 5k (This is the event she chose, The Presidents Day 5K in Rocklin CA, Saturday Feb 16, 2013, sponsored by White Hawk and John Adams Academy. Please come support her if you can). The goal is not to win, but to finish the race. I told her that with proper training, diet, and hard work, she could reach that goal.

I did have a stipulation before I would commit myself to helping her. The stipulation was that her goal had to have several investments. 

(Basically an investment in a goal is anything that you put in to make it harder to back out).


  1. The race HAD to be out of her local area: Sorry but if the race were in her town, come race day she might back out. By making it an “out of area race”, she HAD to make a monetary investment (Lodging, food, travel expenses). So with that we found her a race near Sacramento and she reserved her spot.

  2. She HAD to invite people to attend: It’s pretty hard to back out of something when you’ve already told everyone to set a date on their calendar to come. If they show up and you don’t, well you got some xplainin to do Lucy.

  3. She would need new gear: No one likes to spend money without getting something in return. To make the race “real” she needed new running shoes, and possibly new apparel. If there is one thing Melany hates to do, it’s to part with her money. I knew that if she spent money on race apparel, she would feel compelled to use it.

  4. I needed to write about her experience: Melany is a proud woman. I knew that if I spread the word, and her peers found out about her race, there was no way she would back out. Pride is a powerful weapon if used correctly.


So with those conditions set, she agreed, and began to train.


Project Melany – Phaze one, dust off the cobwebs.



Pre Training Stats

Name: Melany Heaslip-Thomas

Age: 64

Children: 4 daughters, and 2 sons

Height: 4’ 10”

Weight: 152 lbs

Average time working out per week: 0 hours

Training Schedule: Intensive

Benchmark 1 mile run: 19+ Minutes ( She has since finished the same distance in 16:29 during her second week)


So does Melany have a long way to go? Yep

Is it going to be tough? Yep.

Can she do it? Absolutely.

The goal of her 5K race isn't to for her to win, but for her to finish. Goals are great, but un-realistic ones will never help her. Since she hasn’t run more than a mile in years, just getting her to finish will be a feat. Since there’s only a little over three months till race day, she has her work cut out for her. 

The first step:

One thing I did for her was to give her a daily training schedule (See it hereMelany-5-K-Training-Schedule-2012.pdf). I took a bunch of things into account when designing the schedule. Her current fitness level, her prior experience, her weight, flexibility, and also any physical limitations she had. 

Then I designed a simple body weight workout schedule that gets progressively tougher as the weeks go on. The final workout culminates in a much longer (5 mile) run than she will have to complete during the actual race. I figure if she can run 5 miles in training, she’ll have no problem finishing a 3.1 mile distance the day of the race.

The schedule is tough, especially for someone who has been inactive for a while. It is designed to work on her leg strength (something that will come into play during a long race), to build her endurance, and to give her more flexibility. Like I stated before, the goal here is not to have her win the race, but merely to finish it.

As the weeks progress we will look at how she is doing, make changes to the schedule as needed, and go from there.

She’s training on her own, and that presents it’s own challenges, but luckily she has a supportive husband (Mick) who is with her all the way.

Long term.

My hope is that once she completes the 5k, she will continue to train, set future goals and make fitness a way of life.

Wish her luck, she’s currently on week two, with fourteen weeks to go. Please check back each week until February 2013 to see updates on Melany’s progress.

*What goals have you set? Did those goals include an investment? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below.

* As with any new training program, Melany was advised to speak with her Doctor prior to starting any exercise. Do not begin this or any other program without getting the ok from your health care provider.

See you in the hills.



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