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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How Schenectady’s Lisa DeLugo Has Turned Running Into a Tool for Empowerment

DeLugo, a single mom with a full-time job in the health and safety industry, became a running coach.

When Schenectady resident Lisa DeLugo was in high school, she joined the jogging club. “I tried it for a day,” she says. “I came home, and I had these big freaking blisters and was like, ‘Hell, no—I am not doing this again.’” But the allure of running, of achieving that elusive runner’s high, never really left her. “To me, it was the ultimate challenge,” she says. “Like, if I could do that, then I could do anything.”

Fast forward a couple of decades and DeLugo, having just gotten divorced, decided to revisit running. But this time, she didn’t quit after a day. “I kept going,” she says. “I got addicted, believe it or not, to running. It made me feel amazing. To me, running wasn’t about weight loss. It was just like, ‘Oh, I need to do it—I’m stressed out.’ And the weight loss was the bonus.”

As she went along her running journey, DeLugo would post photos of herself after her runs as a way of holding herself accountable. Other women began to take notice, asking if they could run with her. She eventually hosted a Meetup—an event organized through an app of the same name—for women who wanted to get into running. It blew up, attracting more than 100 members. “I started doing these free ‘couch to 5K’ Meetups with beginner runners—women of all different shapes and sizes,” DeLugo says. “I’ve had so many women say, ‘Well, I’m just going to be running on a treadmill.’ And I’m like, ‘Why?’ And they’re like, ‘Well, I don’t want anyone to see me run.’ And I say, ‘Why?’ ‘Because I don’t have a runner’s body.’ And I’m like, ‘Excuse me? What is that? Who said what a runner’s body is? You put your sneakers on—you’re running. End of story.’”

Lisa DeLugo hosts a podcast on running and women’s empowerment.

And just like that, DeLugo, a single mom with a full-time job in the health and safety industry, became a running coach. She recently launched a nine-week online running program that’s geared toward beginners and features nine modules, on topics such as why you decided to run, different types of stretches, and running as therapy, as well as cross-training videos. Clients communicate with DeLugo via Zoom and the run-tracking app Surge and, if they’re local, even occasionally get the chance to run with DeLugo in person. DeLugo also hosts a podcast. “This is not just a podcast about running,” she says. “This is a podcast to empower women through fitness and health and everything in between.”

At press time, DeLugo’s program and podcast were called Not Another Mother Runner, a name she thought embodied who she was—a mother and a runner, but not a typical mother and not a typical runner. But because of trademark rules related to “Mother Runner,” she will have to change her business’ name. She polled her private Facebook group, and asked, straight up, what people thought of her. Only one person said “mother.” “I was just like, OK—I don’t need to have ‘mother’ in my name,” DeLugo says. Instead, she decided on the name Ella-Go, a play on her daughter’s name, Bella. “I’m Spanish,” she continues, “and ella in Spanish means ‘she,’ so it’s ‘she goes.’ This company—who I am, my brand—is not just about being a runner. It’s about being a woman, feeling empowered and feeling like you can do whatever the hell you want to do.”  

Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is the director of content at Capital Region Living and Saratoga Living.

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