Run Streaker Inspires With Her Positive Approach to Weight Loss

Kitty Mackey, 59, is a fan favorite for her unique running shirt—and her attitude.

When Kitty Mackey has to get her daily mile in, she heads for the treadmill in the basement of her home in Gresham, Oregon, opens all the windows, and turns up her eclectic mix of music. Loud.

She starts off walking with The Village People (“YMCA”) and Queen (“Under Pressure”), which she says is a good warmup song, before cranking the pace—and the Guns N’ Roses (“Welcome to the Jungle”), Abba (“Dancing Queen”), and Journey (“Don’t Stop Believing”), among others. Her husband doesn’t mind—he’s a heavy metal rocker—and she doesn’t worry about the neighbors.

Streaker T-Shirt

When Mackey’s done, she’ll use a fabric marker to color in one of the 40 runner figures on her RW Run Streak shirt, and she often posts a picture to the RW Run Streak Facebook group, where more than 6,500 followers are trying the streak and cheering each other on. Mackey, 59, is a favorite in the group for her creative adjustments to her shirt and her spirited posts.

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It wasn’t too long ago that running a nonstop mile a day for the 40 days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day would have been out of the question for Mackey. In the summer of 2015, she was 238 pounds and her favorite hobbies—sewing and sculpting—were sedentary.

She’s battled her weight her whole life. And she watched as her mother and mother-in-law turned 60 and stopped moving, and she’s seen the deterioration in their health that came with inactivity. Mackey was determined to take a different path.

She did so in an unconventional way: by getting her personal training certification to learn what she needed to learn about taking care of her health. For now, she remains her one and only client, but when she retires from her job as a college librarian and instructor, she hopes to continue with a second career as a personal trainer and functional aging specialist.

Down 53 pounds in the two years since she started, Mackey takes a gentle, loving approach to her body. She doesn’t focus on calories or measuring foods.

“It’s really about living a healthy life,” she said. “You’ve got to move. You’ve got to move every day. You’ve got to eat well. It’s changing that cognitive thinking from, ‘I have to work out’ or ‘I can’t eat pizza’ to ‘I really want to give my body some movement. I want to give my lungs what they want, which is some exercise.’ It’s about putting that positive spin on everything, so it’s not a burden. This is a joy to be able to make these positive choices.”

The run streak itself, and the community that has grown around it, have been a source of inspiration for her. “I could not be doing this without the support of the Facebook group,” she said. “The social support is so critical. I’m just blown away by what I get back.”

Kitty Mackey decorates the runners on her Run Streak shirt.
Kitty Mackey

It’s also been fun for her to note her improvement over the course of the streak. She hit 5.8 miles per hour on the treadmill at the end of one of her miles this week and had wanted to get her total mile time under 13 minutes, which she did on December 9 with a 12:40 mile.

When she did, she had a special decoration for the runner on her shirt: She added flames to its feet.

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