A blog by runners. For runners.

Runner of the Week: ‘Toenails are so overrated’

This week we meet Lori Barbely, a travel and wedding photographer who also blogs at Toenails Are So Overrated. Through the years, Lori has completed several half marathons, including one two months after having surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Read her inspiring story.


Where are you located?
Orlando, Florida

Tell us about yourself:
Currently single, work as a travel and wedding photographer (just got back from Tahiti), and have two adorable orange and white kitties.

How did you get started running?
My dad had his first heart attack at 52 and another “cardiac episode” less than 10 years later. My mom is on cholesterol medicine. A few years ago, I was losing the battle to high cholesterol and I decided it was time to start doing something about it, so I took up yoga and running.

I had been running for about a year, had completed two half marathons and was training for the Disneyland Half Marathon to complete my coast-to-coast challenge when I was diagnosed with a rare form of sweat gland cancer on my face. I had the tumor removed and reconstructive plastic surgery to repair the damage. After two months of not even being able to walk for exercise much less run, lift weights, or do yoga, I was cleared to work out just days before the DL Half. I walked the entire thing and cried like a baby when I crossed the finish line.

Since then, I’ve run two more halves, I am training for another, and I am registered for the Spacecoast Marathon as my first full marathon this coming December.

Why did you pick running?
I would always see people on Facebook or Twitter posting that they’d just done a 5K and when I heard about couch to 5k, I figured, “hey, I can do that!” And supposedly running was a cheap form of exercise. I know now that’s a myth!

What’s the best thing about running? What’s the worst thing?
The best thing about running is … the medals! Kidding! Kind of. In reality, it’s great because it helps me clear my head and burn off frustration. The worst thing about running is training in the heat of the Florida summer and having to get up insanely early to avoid it.

Do you have any advice for a running newbie?
Slow down! Most people try to run too fast and don’t get very far because of that.

Tell us a bit about your training — what does a typical week look like?
I run three times a week, do yoga twice a week, and do strength training once or twice a week.

Tell us about your running or fitness goals.
In terms of running, I’d like to finish my first full marathon upright and be able to walk the next day. I’d also like to run a half in each of the 50 states, but that’s a very long term goal! In yoga, I’d love to be able to do Crow position and a handstand.

Favorite candy:
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Favorite quote:
“Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.” -China Mieville, The Scar. It applies to so much more than physical scars, so it resonates with me on a number of levels.

Favorite running song:
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

Favorite cross-training activity:

Music or no music (when running):
I need music to distract me and get me through my runs. I favor bad 80’s pop and 90’s hairbands. Did I just admit that?

Treadmill, outside, or both:
Outside. I hate the treadmill with the fire of a thousand suns!

Thank you, Lori, for sharing your story! If you’d like to nominate yourself or another runner to be the “Runner of the Week,” email us! We’d love to hear from you.