60 marathons ago, Rhonda-Lee Foulds was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

  • Jul. 6, 2017 2:35 p.m.

Rhonda-Lee Foulds was 36, a runner and the mother of three active little boys when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1999. She underwent brain surgery, stopped running, gained weight and took 25 pills a day.

“I went from being very active to not being active at all,” Foulds, who lives in Justin, Texas, told us when we wrote about her in 2011 before her first marathon. “I had an electric wheelchair and had resigned myself to that’s how it was going to be.”

But fate has a way of rolling its eyes when we get out our crystal balls and think we can predict our future. How could Foulds, now 53, ever dream that by 2017, she’d have completed 60 marathons and ultra marathons (six 50Ks, or 31 milers, to be precise)? All she knew is that there must be a better way than pills to control her symptoms.

Typical week of workouts: I am a member of Camp Gladiator in the Roanoke/Justin area. Every week, I participate in three to four of their workouts, which consist of group fitness and working together as a team. I also run anywhere from 35 to 60 miles per week.

If I had just 20 minutes to work out, I would: Definitely run!

What gets in the way of my exercise? My biggest hindrance is extreme fatigue due to advanced Parkinson’s.

Proudest fitness moment: I ran a quad (four marathons in four days) over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last November. Each of the marathons ended up being very close in finish time.

Fitness goals: My fitness goal is to stay ahead of my illness with planned, difficult exercise six of seven days per week. I also have my first 50-mile race scheduled for Aug. 19. It’s called Lean Horse and is in Deadwood, S.D. If I make it successfully through the 50-miler, I will consider a 100-miler.

Three things you’ll always find in my refrigerator: Fruit, yogurt, protein drinks.

Favorite healthy food: Watermelon.

Favorite indulgence: Chocolate.

What I’d tell someone who wants to follow my routine: Take it slowly and, as far as running, start with a program like Couch to 5K and stick to it like glue. You’ll find your endurance getting better and better if you choose to run long distances or run faster. Also, find a group like Camp Gladiator. They make it easier to get fit because you gain lots of friends who also enjoy working out.

What my workout says about me: My workout says I am determined to stay healthy regardless of my diagnosis. I always say that people are capable of so much more than they think they are. That’s definitely my situation, as I used to think I should just sit around and wait to wither and die.

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