Jill Mulder and the Transformative Power of Running

“I was very anti-exercise. I did not believe in it.” That was Jill’s view before taking up running. All her friends were having babies and saying that exercise helps delivery. She said, “No, exercise does not help delivery.” True to her claim, she had her four children pretty fast. It was at that point where Jill soon discovered the power of running to transform a life.

In 2006, after having her fourth child, the whole family went to the zoo. “Every few steps I had to stop. I was tired. I had no energy at all whatsoever.” Just walking was a challenge. At that point Mike, her husband, said, “You are lazy.” That really kind of stung.

The next day, while watching kids play, Jill shared what Mike said with a neighbor. Jill confessed, “You know, I really think I am.”

Her neighbors response: “You know what? I want to take you running.”

“I don’t run. I don’t exercise. What do you mean? I can’t do that.” Her neighbor persisted and Jill went out and bought a pair of running shoes. She went on her own first. She ran to the neighborhood mailbox. “It was not that far at all, but I thought I was going to die.” In spite of that, she decided to go again the next day. She went not even a half mile and came home spent. “This has got to get easier.” When Jill did run with her neighbor they ran a mile and the neighbor talked the whole time. Jill was dying.

One of the challenges Jill faced was being overweight. As Jill improved her diet and continued to run, the weight came off pretty fast. Six months later Jill was running up to two miles regularly, but the most she had run was two miles.

Jill describes the next step: “Friends said, ‘If you’re running, you better do a 5k.’” That was another nerve inducing adventure. Jill took that on and was hooked. Then, she discovered the half-marathon but asserted that she would never do a full marathon. That resolve lasted until a friend of hers with Rheumatoid arthritis completed a marathon. This friend has mornings where she can’t get up, yet she did it. “If she can do a marathon, I can do a marathon.” Jill then took on the marathon.

Jill’s running didn’t stay just with Jill. As Mike looked on he decided to join in saying, “Well, if you are going to run, I am going to run.” They still run together. Jill also started coaching her kids in their various sports including their school’s track and field program. “Seeing the kids excelling and wanting this, I had to do this. I looked at my kids. I didn’t want them sitting there watching TV. And, I wanted to be out there with them.” She realized that she gets to be the role model for them.

Jill has also encouraged and recruited many other moms to run. “I have four kids…people tell me they don’t have time to run. Yes, you do! You have to make time.” She has been a go-to source for numerous moms and others venturing out into the world of running for the first time.

After all these years of running numerous races including six marathons and two half Ironmans, when asked, “Why do you run? Why do you do this to yourself?” Jill has many answers. One would be the sense of accomplishment: “I have worked hard to get where I am at.” Another would be the freedom to eat (though she says she has learned to eat better as well). “Running clears the mind” and helps her be better as a parent, spouse, and employee. Running has also become a way that she can help others and give back to her community. “Because I run people want to tell me when they run.” Running has become an integral part of who Jill is.

Jill’s story is a testament to the power of running to make real and lasting changes to a person’s life. See you out on a run!

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