From the Capitol City Classic 10k and 1 mile fun run we ran in April. My husband, Kijana Royal, Sr., myself and my son Kijana “KJ” Royal, II, all ran the 10k. My little ones, Christian, Parker and Payton, all ran the 1 mile fun run.
How long have you been at UAMS and what is your official role here?
I began working at UAMS in the neonatal intensive care unit in April 2013, as a staff RN III. I am currently an RN IV clinical expert and serve in the charge/acuity nurse role and as a staff RN.
Pam, you are very active, please tell us more about yourself and the programs you and your husband have started.
My husband, Kijana Royal, Sr. and I are both Little Rock natives. We’ve been married for 20 years and have six children, (including our 9-year old who passed away nine years ago). Both of us became inactive for some time when we were dealing with a chronically ill child and other small children. In 2009, due to an increased risk for diabetes, I realized I needed make some changes regarding my health. I began running with the Couch to 5k program. My husband followed the same program soon after I did. Over the last seven years, we’ve run many half-marathons, 10ks and 5ks, many to support local charities. Every other even year, my best friend and I run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in memory of my angel princess Taylor (my daughter who passed away in 2008). In the last three years, we’ve incorporated strength training into our fitness routine. We have had many ups and downs and staying consistent is challenging at times with such a busy lifestyle. Often times, changing the routine and trying something new helps with rejuvenating our motivation to stay engaged in physical activity. Next week, I will be attending my first boot camp, which will last five weeks!
While I have not started any programs, I was/am a run coordinator for the Black Girls Run! Little Rock Sherwood/North Little Rock group. Black Girls Run! is a national initiative to help motivate women of color (although not exclusive) to get active and reduce disease risk. There are several running groups in the Metro Little Rock, North Little Rock and surrounding areas and women volunteer to coordinate the efforts. The Sherwood/North Little Rock group has taken a break but is set to resume soon. My husband, Kijana Royal, Sr., was instrumental in bringing Black Men Run to the Little Rock area. He has recently transitioned out of that role and functions as a member. Black Men Run also promotes an active and healthy lifestyle and reducing health risks for African-American men (but is open to anyone). Both Black Men Run and Black Girls Run are free programs.
My husband and I have been active with the Little Rock Marathon training group when preparing for the Little Rock Marathon races. This is a free program for those interested in a structured training who wish to run any of the Little Rock Marathon.
What age groups do you target or they open to all?
Most of the running groups in which we participate are open to those 18 and older, but there are times that parents will bring their children and have them run/walk with them for physical activity. We have involved our children in several local races and run as a family to support local charities.
What is a good way for UAMS employees to get into contact with your programs if they are interested?
- The Little Rock Marathon training program
- Black Girls Run and Facebook page.
- Black Men Run and Facebook page.
What is your best advice for someone starting out in this type of training?
Get clearance from your physician. Go slow! Be sure to get fitted for shoes. Go slow! Listen to your body! Programs like Couch to 5k and other walk to run progression programs are great to get started. When lifting, start slow and progress. Keep a journal of your progress and activity. Track your diet. Much of our health is centered on what we eat. That’s a struggle for most of us! It truly is the battle of the bulge!
Should novice runners try to go it alone, or do you think they would fare better with a partner or group to be held accountable to?
When I began, I did it alone. I’ve found it much easier to stay committed with an accountability partner. It also helps make the time more enjoyable for longer distance runs. Running partners and groups are great at helping you increase your goals and at motivating people to keep going.
What has been the biggest challenge for you and your husband since starting your programs?
Our biggest challenge with remaining consistent has been family and work commitments. With the number of children we have, our schedules are very busy. We have both balanced church, home, work and school and -at times- not very well. Unfortunately, one of the first things to be neglected is physical activity. It’s a constant struggle, but we are learning and having to remind each other that taking care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of everyone else.
Any special items that you use while training to help you and your family and friends stay accountable and safe?
We both utilize activity trackers and health/fitness apps (Fitbit, Garmin Connect, MyFitness Pal, etc.) for accountability. Our Garmin run watches also have a live track feature that allows us to send live GPS data to each other so our whereabouts are known to each other.This safety feature gives peace of mind to us both.
Read the article featuring Pamela Royal in the Arkansas Democratic Gazette.