Thirteen year old Katie Napoli is one of our youngest “veteran” runners, having been with the team since she was 8 years old. Katie and her family run for Katie’s cousin, Danny, and are part of one of our highest-fundraising teams in Run For Our Sons history. Katie’s special relationship with her cousin has motivated her to run more than 21 races, from 5Ks to half marathons. She recently created an awareness video and blog featuring Danny and other young men living with Duchenne. Meet Katie, view her inspirational video, and read her blog, both of which are linked at the end of the profile.
Why did you choose to join the Run for Our Sons team?
Soon after my cousin, Danny was diagnosed with Duchenne, which was at the age of 3, my family immediately began research to find whatever information and organization could help us further understand what was happening. After a short while we were introduced to Run for Our Sons. There, we found instructions and created long-lasting friendships with many of the other teams and families. Now, we are blessed to be one of the many teams that are part of such a devoted, helpful, and family oriented organization.
How many races have you participated in? If more than one, which was your favorite and why?
I have participated in 21+ races. These races range from 5k’s to Half Marathons. However, out of all these races nothing tops the annual Disney races which are full of laughter, pictures, costumes, dancing (yes, even when we are running!), and of course the occasional singing to one another. The best is not only being in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ and running through the breathtaking and beautiful scenery of the parks but also the constant cheering and motivation.
How do you prepare for races?
When preparing for races, I tend to run two to three times during the week depending on what’s on my schedule. Those runs will be anywhere from 4 to 6 miles depending on where in my training I am and what my long run will be. My long runs are most weeks on Saturday. I try to create a plan where each week the long run mileage gets bumped up one mile. Leading to the week or two before the race completing 12 miles. The longest race I have ever participated in was a half marathon so, my longest run is a mile short of the race. When training, I run with a large group of our team members. We choose to run all over our neighborhood and into the next.
Do you have any fundraising and/or training tips or pointers you would share with other runners – either advice someone gave you or you’ve discovered on your own?
When training and running in races, it is very important to listen to your body but be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, am I bored, tired, or really in pain. I have learned from many personal experiences that we as humans and runners put so much pressure on ourselves and don’t look at the bigger picture of what you are even considering. Running is not an easy sport and just by starting to train and slowly growing stronger is an amazing step of progress. So, be sure to give yourself credit for it because in the long run, the pain you feel during that run is something that DMD boys must overcome every day. We are their legs and we can accomplish anything because they believe in us. The important note is to believe in yourself just as much.
What will be the first thing you do when you finish your next race?
Pictures are an important part of our post-race routine. Making memories is key! But afterward we all seem to do the same thing… throw on our Team Danny shirt, our bling, and head out to the Disney park for a fun day of eating and riding our favorite rides.