Updated: May 11
Our TEAMmates come to TEAM GritChicks with their own unique background, motivations, goals and dreams, and we find so much inspiration from each other. We all have unique gifts and so much to give, and in our safe, supportive community, we are free and encouraged to be exactly who we are.
In this spirit, we are excited to share a little of our TEAMmates' stories, to celebrate them and to inspire others as well.
With that said, I am excited to share with you a little about TEAM GritChicks TEAMmate Kelsey Johanson Huggins. A ray of light who brings joy and positivity to the TEAM and to everyone she meets. Enjoy!
Kelsey, tell us when and why you started running.
I started running in fall 2019. I was 8 months postpartum with my first child when I ran my first ever mile. I am a lifelong asthmatic and was always terrified of running. When I had my daughter in February 2019 I had a very hard time adjusting, struggled with breastfeeding and was incredibly lonely. My husband and I lived in Charlotte, 4 hours from our family, and before giving birth I’d worked from home so I didn’t have any connections. It was an incredibly difficult time as my husband was also working long hours. It was lonely.
I found a free, local mom’s workout group that met twice a week for 45 minute park workouts. I was desperate to find friends and a support group so I showed up despite all of the anxiety and dread at 4 months postpartum.
The group of women and their support changed my life. I became a very active member and was encouraged to try running separately from our group strength workouts. I was terrified but walked consistently and eventually my feet just started to move faster. That’s where my IG handle comes from… legs over lungs. That was my mantra. If my legs could just stay strong and keep going, surely my lungs could follow suit. I’d repeat it over and over and sometimes still do!
What do you love most about it?
I love what running has given me. Running is my time alone. As a stay at home home to two girls, 4 and about to be 2, it’s my respite. But it’s also been magical running those stroller miles. Special memories and milestones with those girls along for the ride mean the world to me. I’ve gained so many wonderful friends, online and in “real” life. It’s given me confidence that I can do hard things. It’s given me travel opportunities. I’ve seen incredible sunrises. Running has expanded my world in ways I could have never imagined!
What is your biggest challenge when training?
Scheduling and lack of sleep are my biggest challenges for training. My husband works very hard to provide for our family and that means long hours and also an on-call schedule. He always supports my running, as do my parents who live near by and often help, but I can feel guilty sometimes to dash out the door. Our youngest is just now starting to sleep more but it’s been a long two years!
Have you had an embarrassing or funny running experience you'd be willing to share?
Let’s just say I’m super glad that Thinx/Knix undies have been invented!!!
What is your favorite place to run?
The beach at sunrise!
What is your favorite destination you’ve ever run?
Definitely the GritChicks Zion Retreat!
What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment with running/fitness?
There are so many little victories and I’m definitely the kind of gal who loves to celebrate them all! That being said, running the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (13.1) in October 2021 was my proudest running moment.
I was 6 months postpartum with our second daughter when I ran it. I’d been nursing and then nursing and supplementing that whole time. Right as the training block started (August) my husband got a job offer and within a week of the offer I had packed up with our daughters and moved into my mom and dad’s house. It was crazy. My husband worked his notice and we listed our house. It sold in a day and we stayed with my parents as the house we bought was being built.
It was just such a wild time. Little sleep, our whole world turned upside down, our oldest started preschool. And I was running consistently. I ran that half as my first official 13.1 (I’d run one alone in 2020 quarantine) and crushed it. I ran without walking once and pushed myself further than I knew I could go.
And my whole family, husband, kids, mom and dad, in-laws, aunt and uncle… they were all there to greet me at the finish line, along with new running friends. It was a dream come true.
Do you have a female role model (running related or not)? If so, who is she and why?
Again, so many!!! My mother is, and always has been, my role model. She is steady, loving, fun, humble, faithful, artistic, ever-learning and endlessly supportive. She is a gentle soul with a fiery spirit. She gives so much and is always gracious. Now, getting to see her as a Gigi makes me even more proud that she is my mama! I pray that I can have an ounce of her patience each day. My mom inspires me to chase my dreams while simultaneously keeping me grounded. She is my best friend and the most special woman in the world to me! The older I get, the more I admire my mom!
And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jen as another role model! As anyone who attended the Zion trip and saw me happy-crying about it can attest, Jen’s support has been an integral part of my fitness journey. Finding GritChicks helped make me the woman I am today. I admire very much the way that Jen has overcome, the way she gives of her time and resources, the way she is so authentically herself and the way she’s created a safe, empowering corner of the world for female athletes of all levels. Thank you for paving the way, sis!
What are some interesting non-running facts about you?
12 is my lucky number! I am born in April 12, alongside my youngest daughter AND my mom! All of us 4/12 babies! My husband and eldest are also born on the 12th of August and February, respectively.
My other passion/hobby is thrifting clothes! I love the thrill of treasure hunting and finding unique, high quality pieces.
What is your biggest running goal/dream?
My biggest goal right now is to run a full marathon. I’d love to accomplish that within the next 5 years, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!
What is your biggest NON-running goal/dream?
My biggest non-running goal is to open a small business! My dream is to have a resale boutique, hand-picking quality items, curating collections and giving them new life at a new home! I get so much joy from sharing thrifted finds and bringing higher-end items to all women at an accessible price point. This dream is in the works and I hope to be up and running on socials and in person by the fall, if not sooner!
Anything else you'd like to share?
I’d like to thank all of my TEAMmates and my family for believing in me. And I’d like to encourage anyone who is struggling with anything to reach out in some way. Whether it’s calling a family member, interacting on socials, finding a club/community group.. take that step. You do not have to struggle alone or in silence. It can be hard to be vulnerable but when you bravely put yourself out there, there is much, much, much love to be received. You are worthy of happiness and goodness!
You can find Kelsey on Instagram @legsoverlungs