Episode 15: Marina Gelman - How Adopting an Athletic Mindset Saved this Mother's Life


In 2000, at the age of 40, Marina Gelman lost her college-aged daughter in a tragic car accident. At the time, Gelman was a new fitness enthusiast and avid runner. Overcome by grief after the accident, however, she holed herself up for almost two years and focused only on work to numb the pain. Unfortunately, during this time, she abandoned her fitness goals, started smoking again after a long hiatus, and put on weight; reaching over 200 pounds.

Ironically, it was another tragedy a short time later, the death of her Father from a heart attack, that inspired her to start training again. As it turns out, training non-stop turned out to be a blessing and a curse. Yes, she lost weight and found relief from her stress and heartache, but she was also overtraining…severely. Marina eventually succumbed to the devastating effects of chronic fatigue. Even the simple act of walking up a flight of stairs became unbearable. 

In 2012, after hearing about Matt Dixon and Purple Patch from her running club, she reached out. At the time, she was 240 pounds, her heaviest. She explained to Matt that she had only two small goals:

  1. Recover from her chronic fatigue

  2. Run three miles again. That’s it.

Matt set her sights higher. Not only did he give her hope, but he also gave her a long-term structured plan and a wonderful community of support. Today, Marina Gelman is a Half-Ironman finisher, with her hopes set on finishing a full Ironman in the near future. She has also lost 105 pounds and trains daily, fully recovered from chronic fatigue.  

This is a story of hope and promise. Adopting an athletic mindset, regardless of where you find yourself, just may be the one spark to save your life. “Losing a child is something unimaginable to go through,” says Marina. “Sport, in a way, and running saved me from sadness for the rest of my life.”