Why Debra Runs For Maternal Health

You don’t have to be a marathoner to be part of Team EMC.

The TCS New York City Marathon is this weekend and Team EMC is busy making final preparations for their 26.2-mile run. This year, 100 people have joined our Chicago and New York Marathon teams and committed to running to raise awareness and funds to reduce preventable maternal deaths. While our marathoners deserve every bit of attention we can give them, it’s important to point out that Team EMC is made up of runners who run both short and long distances. Being part of the team is all about making the commitment; putting in the effort and mile after mile, jog after jog, running short or long distances to help make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. Each person who runs for Every Mother Counts makes a huge contribution.

Every Mother Counts Director of Communications, Debra Duffy, is one of Team EMC’s short distance runners. Here’s why Debra runs:

Debra, I know you played volleyball throughout school, but was running ever part of your lifestyle before you became involved with EMC?

I never ran much. Volleyball is about quickness and agility, so there was some sprinting as part of training, but otherwise, running was never anything I was interested in pursuing. It wasn’t until I became involved with Every Mother Counts that I wanted to run. The team here was training for their first NYC marathon and while promoting it I was so inspired by their dedication and how they were running for mothers they would never even meet, but it was so important to raise awareness around maternal health issues. I wanted to be part of that commitment to help make a difference.

How did you go from being a non-runner to where you are now?

Last year, for New Year’s Eve, I was with my husband’s family and we all went around the room and had to say one thing we wanted to accomplish in 2014. I said I wanted to run my first 5K by Mother’s Day. I told my friend Carol, my workout buddy, that I was committed to that and she immediately said, “me too!” We decided, along with my sister, to make 5Ks “our thing” and run them for Every Mother Counts and at that moment we were officially on Team EMC. We started with two minutes of running, then lots of walking. Eventually, we worked our way up to running two miles. That was super motivating for me because at the time we were promoting our #Every2 Campaign and it clicked how cool it felt to run for something and actually be able to message back to it.

On Mother’s Day, I ran my first 5K with 16 of my friends and family members. We all wore the EMC Oiselle shirts and while running, talked about the work Every Mother Counts was doing. Sidebar, I did walk here and there for a few minutes of the run, but I finished. Afterwards, I looked back and thought I could do more 5k’s and get better each time. A few weeks later, I did another 5K for EMC with Carol, but also with new friends that were interested in running shorter distances for EMC. I haven’t stopped since.

There really is no distance too short or effort too small, right?

I think people should just set their own goals. If you only want to run one mile — that’s fantastic. But if you’re like I was, once you start feeling good running that one mile, you’re going to think, I could do two and later, I could probably do three. And walking during a run is totally fine too. If you’re running and you want to stop — then stop. No problem. If you want to walk the rest of the way — then walk. You’re out there doing it and that’s the goal.

Have you discovered your runners high?

I’m really surprised how much I’ve come to love it. It really has become a big bonding moment for me with friends, family and now my job. This summer when I was in transition to come to EMC full time, my sisters said they knew it was the right job for me, because it was the only client I’ve ever had that made me want to start running consistently.

Whats amazing about being part of Team EMC, is you can decide how long you want to run and where. Just this past weekend, I woke up and felt like running a 5k. My sister and I looked in our area for the closest one and put on our EMC gear. We turned on our Charity Miles app, hit the pavement and took a picture mid-run for Instagram. It was that simple. I’ve gotten a little faster over time, but I’m not doing this to compete — well for the time being. In general, I am envious of all the runners that train for marathons on EMC’s behalf, but I am also proud and excited for all the women and men that go out and run any distance to raise awareness for this cause.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Debra and for representing those of us who run the short distance.

Join Every Mother Counts this month by sharing our film, “The Walk” on social media using #EveryMileEveryMother, or by supporting our #TeamEMC runners on Crowdrise.

Topics: Every Mile Every Mother, Maternal Health