South Mississippi wheelchair runner beats the odds striving for big fitness goals
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - One South Mississippi resident is striving to be the best version of herself despite her circumstances. Each day, Jill Carney runs your not so average morning run, because she does it in a wheelchair.
“Statically, people in a wheelchair don’t have as long of life because our bodies weren’t made for sitting all the time,” Carney said. “It was like, you know, you need to start doing something.”
A little over 20 years ago, Carney lost her right leg after being shot, a tragedy that she said changed her life for the better. Carney said her disability has pushed her to be her best, not for herself but also for her children.
“The big thing that kept me going was at the time is I had two little boys at the time,” Carney said. “They’re now almost 23 and 25. If it wasn’t for them I don’t know if I would’ve made it, quite honest.”
As her children became adults, Carney was up for a new challenge. Last March she tapped into something a little more competitive, eventually participating in different runs.
“It was slow, getting like a mile at first and that was about it,” Carney said. “But I worked myself up and eventually I was doing six miles on a regular basis. I done 11 miles at once.”
Carney grew to love the exercise, which she said is a surprise seeing that she wasn’t a fan of conditioning prior to her disability while serving in the military.
“I hated doing the runs in the army,” Carney laughed.
Thanks to COVID-19, many of the runs she signed up for were held virtually, leading her to strive for something even bigger.
“I’m doing this couch to marathon training program,” said Carney. “The first quarter you’re working up to 5k, which I know I can do no problem. The second quarter you’re working up to a 10k.”
Then the last quarter is completing a marathon at Disney next January, which is a goal she hopes to reach.
“Right now that’s what I’m working towards so I do what I can to and actually I’m starting to feel like I’m just about in best shape I’ve been in my whole life,” she said.
Carney said she is now looking for more activities to help get other parts of her body in shape.
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