She is like so many of us—she didn't think she was a runner until she started.

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“Just starting came at the perfect time in my life!” says Project Start creator Candice Huffine.

“I started running because I finally just got sick of hearing myself say I couldn’t. My husband dared me that I COULD run a half marathon. I laughed it off originally, but I realized that I actually would like to see if I could and prove him and myself right. I wanted to set a goal and see it through,” she shares.

Candice has been modeling professionally for her entire adult life. Her career success has been considerable—you can see her work in V Magazine, Italian Vogue, the Pirelli Calendar, American Vogue, Glamour magazine, and Lane Bryant’s recent #ImNoAngel and #PlusisEqual campaigns, to name a few—but being such a busy, in-demand model has meant that she hasn’t always have time for passion projects and hobbies. And, initially like most women, Candice found the prospect of running intimidating!

“I was initially afraid that I would physically not be able to run. I have no idea where that notion came from, but part of me worried that because I didn’t look like a typical ‘runner’ that meant I would not be able to actually do it,” she recalls.

But those fears soon proved unfounded, and Candice took to the sport like a duck to water.

“After starting I learned those fears were absolutely ridiculous! I learned that I able capable of anything I set my mind to and beyond that I learned that running is for everybody and every BODY. There is no perfect look, or speed, or outfit, or distance. It is whatever YOU make of it and it’s an experience that is all your own.”

As a curvy-bodied woman, Candice had some assumptions about the running community (like most of us do). She also had ideas about what running would feel like, and how it would impact her body.

“I was surprised by so much! On a personal level I was shocked at how amazing I felt mentally. I felt happier and sharper and more creative—a feeling I crave to have forever now that I’ve found how to achieve it so simply for myself,” she says of the amazing mental and metaphysical benefits of running.

“I was also surprised at how much fun I had when running and that is due in part to the community in which I found myself. What surprised me is how AWESOME the running world is. I thought this was something I had to do solo, but once I ran with a group I was totally hooked. Everyone is smiling, supportive, inspiring, and encouraging. I found that even if I was coming in dead last and stressed about it, there they were lined up to give me high fives thinking nothing of it. The running community is a positive place that has an innate ability to have you throwing your fears, excuses and self doubt out the window!” says Candice of the support and community she found with other runners.

Candice trains regularly with the November Project NY tribe when she’s in town. She has found support, community, friendship and sisterhood through the ladies that she’s met along the way.

“I started running to get to the finish line of one race, but stayed because of the people. Namely all of the ladies of Project Start for which none of this would be possible. I am thankful for their honesty and support and am so happy other women got to know them too. They wow me and push me to be a better person and if they are reading this I want you to know Alison, Kelly, April and Ali…you are the reason I run! Thank you,” says Candice to her fellow Project Start ambassadors.

Candice started running in 2016. In looking back over her experiences so far, her first race—the New York City Half Marathon—stands out in her mind as one of the most memorable so far.

“I mean, there is only one first race…I ran my first half marathon, which I ran in the city I love, with my best friend by my side,” recalls Candice.

And you know you have truly been bit by the running bug when you start marking all of your life’s major milestones with it! “Recently, I just ran another on my fifth wedding anniversary with my husband by my side. I had a blast and won’t forget one step,” she gushes.

Looking back on her first year of running as a whole, Candice feels nothing but joy. “All of this is new and exciting for me, because I never saw myself getting this far. This whole year is one I’ll cherish forever because it’s the one where I became a runner,” she says.

Candice’s journey with running is just beginning! She looks forward to every run now moving forward.

“I look forward to having fun! Who knew?!” she says. “Running snuck in and changed who I am entirely. I thought becoming a runner was very black and white, but what I didn’t know was how impactful being one can be on your life in a positive way. Everything fell into place this year when I started running and I feel unstoppable in so many ways!”

This is also the beginning for Candice’s journey with Project Start, an online community of runners to encourage and inspire all women to lace up and just START!

“Project Start will always be a community for all women and a celebration of running. I like to think of it as an all-inclusive, lady power, running party! This initiative sheds light on the diversity of running and relieves any doubt women have about becoming the runner they want to be! ‘One foot in front of the other,’ like Ali Feller says, we are here for you…and hey, P.S You Got This!”

There are many ways to get involved in Project Start! Candice has created a running club for Project Start on Strava to connect with others in the running community. It’s been an imperative tool in her training. The Project Start running club can be searched within the Strava app under “Clubs,” or found here.

The @psyougotthis page will continue sharing actual running tips for getting started, motivation and the stories of inspiring women. Women can share their journey with the ladies of Project Start through using hashtag #psyougothis and by tagging the page as well!

What’s Candice’s number-one tip for women who are getting started with running?

“My number one tip is start small. Make a goal to run for just 5 minutes, or one full mile, etc.—whatever works for you that isn’t impossible right away. I find that if we set the bar too high and strike out we are less likely to try again,” she says of setting realistic goals at the outset.

Even Candice, when she first started out, had preconceived notions of what was possible for her body. But she continues to blow past the barriers that she once saw for herself, through consistent training and immersing herself in a positive community of women runners.

“I thought I couldn’t be a runner because I couldn’t run for 30 minutes straight, but of course I couldn’t without working to it. Everything will happen in time. Be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. You will get there and the pride you will have for reaching your goals and doing this for yourself makes it all so worth it!” she says.

Don’t let anything stop you. JUST START!