Natalia Maddela is an inspiring runner who is training for the TCS NYC Marathon and also raising funds for the non-profit Back on My Feet NYC, which helps combat homelessness using the transformative power of running. Natalia is a dedicated Back on My Feet NYC volunteer who regularly goes for 5:30 am training runs to help encourage members and train together while breaking down barriers, one mile at a time.
According to their website, "Back on My Feet seeks to revolutionize the way our society approaches homelessness. Our unique running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes and new lives."
Here is my interview with the awesome running heroine Natalia:
What got you into running?
I was fortunate enough not only to have met new friends that basically taught me how to run, but also to have had an old friend learning and taking every step right along with me.
How did you become involved with Back on My Feet NYC?
A friend passed me the Mizuno Baton, an app through which BoMF received a donation for every mile run. I ran for a week, but realized I didn't know anything about the organization. It took me 2 minutes to join after learning about BoMF's mission and program.
How has Back on My Feet made an impact on you?
BoMF taught me how to run with someone and for someone. I've learned that the benefits of a "good morning" far outweigh the effort. But the most profound effect BoMF has had on me is in their constant reminder that "no one runs alone." Someone is always running along side you, whether you're pushing each other across the finish line or dropping back because it's one of those days. That support extends beyond the road. They've shaken me out of exhaustion and doubt and taught me how to be a good teammate. And I hope that has translated into being a better runner, aunt, wife, and friend.
What's a running goal you are working on right now?
Increasing my speed. I'm not trying to break sound barriers, just trying to pick it up a bit to keep up with my friends!
What keeps you motivated?
I'm always aware of the physical and mental shape I was in before I started running and am constantly trying to keep those conditions at bay. But I wouldn't have continued running if it weren't for the people around me. I don't cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon if my family doesn't find me at mile 24. I've had the opportunity to run 12 miles with someone who has overcome greater odds than I can imagine, but at one point didn't think he could run a mile. A teammate that struggled through a 10-mile race a year ago, carried me through a 16 mile run last week. My sister is running her very first half marathon in January and I get to run beside her. They motivate me.
What's one of your proudest running accomplishments?
The 2015 New York City Marathon was my first marathon. When I joined BoMF, I had given up the idea of running a marathon and joined for the 2 to 4 mile routes. But it's impossible not to at least kick around the idea when you see and hear the team's excitement and dedication.
Preferred running shoes?
I got my first pair of actual running shoes last year, which were Brooks Launch, but I'm not too picky.
Favorite song to run with right now?
Miranda Lambert - Vice
Favorite running song of all time?
Jessie J - Masterpiece or Lady Antebellum - Perfect Day, depends on my mood!
What snack do you reach for before a run?
A piece of toast with peanut butter.
After a long run, what do you like to eat?
I'm trying to eat better after a long run, in hopes of improving my fitness, but I love food...a lot. I usually end up indulging in French fries or Filipino food.
How do you balance running and the rest of your life?
There are a lot of daily tasks that necessarily take up time, attention, and energy throughout the day. So I tend to run early in the morning before all the madness starts.
How has running made an impact on your life?
Running has played a huge role in helping me get healthier, but is also a stress reliever, ice breaker, social outlet, cold remedy, and a kick in the pants. I'm not a competitive runner by any means; any race where I can cross the finish line is a win. Running reminds me not to take myself too seriously. If I keep moving forward and can have fun while doing it, it'll be a good ride.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead
If you were an animated character, who/what would you be?
Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
What advice would you give new runners?
I don't know anything about training or nutrition, so I'd say to just get out the door. Don't think about it. Don't worry about your outfit or your hydration or your pace. Lace up your shoes and go. Go until you run out of time, until you reach that mile marker, until it's not fun anymore. Then turn around and come home and do it again tomorrow.
Where can we cheer you on?
I'm on IG at nataiia82.