Sidney Stoker is running toward her goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon one centimeter at a time.
Earlier this month, the Utah resident created a “parody” Instagram account and declared that she would run one centimeter for every person that followed her.
“Honestly, the reason I started it was to make people laugh and it’s worked. It was only ever supposed to be a (fake Instagram) with like 500 followers max," she tells TODAY.com in an email.
In just a few short weeks, Stoker's following has skyrocketed to almost 189K and she has gradually increased her daily run to match the number of people following her fitness journey. At this follower count, she's currently running about 1.2 miles a day.
The videos are comedic in nature, but Stoker says the intent behind them is 100% serious.
"Qualifying for the Boston arathon really is the ultimate goal! I know it’s hard to do. I have wanted to for a long time. I just have not put a lot of effort into running," she says.
Having someone (or a couple hundred thousand people) hold you accountable on your fitness journey is always helpful. At the same time, Stoker is remaining realistic about what it will take to achieve her goals.
"I don’t think I could qualify for this year's race, but if I could qualify for next year’s race, that would be amazing," she says.
Stoker says she originally got the idea for the account when her sister and brother-in-law pointed out other social media accounts that have set goals for themselves (like drinking milk or doing pushups) and asked followers to help motivate them.
“All of the accounts they had showed me were men. So I decided ‘Hey, why can’t I do this?’” she says. “I work full-time as a staff accountant, so I figured I needed to do something I’d have time for just in case it blew up. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to blow up, but just in case.”
Stoker admits that her family was a bit skeptical when she first embarked on this adventure, but says they’ve been “very supportive.”
“My brother and all my sisters call me every night asking me what time the video will be released, which interrupts the making of the video,” she says.
Stoker, who recently ran a 10K, says this isn't her first foray into running.
“I started running when I was a junior in college. I would run on my treadmill at my apartment complex. I’d only run like a mile or maybe two max and only twice a week maybe,” she explains.
When Stoker’s cousin encouraged her to do a half marathon with her, she completed it with “little to no training.” During the race, she fell in love with the sport.
“Honestly, after you run for so long, you get a running high. It’s real!” she says.
After that race, Stoker ran occasionally then ran another half marathon in her hometown last year for fun. Ultimately, she regretted that she didn't train enough.
Since she launched her Instagram account earlier this month, Stoker says she has lost a few pounds along the way. But that wasn't the goal.
“I did not at all start this to lose weight. I feel pretty comfortable with myself as far as my weight goes. I just did it because I wanted to be healthier and feel better,” she says, adding that she also attributes her hectic schedule to her weight loss.
Stoker is feeling more energetic these days and says she couldn't be more grateful for the support from her followers.
"I want it to be a lighthearted page. I want it to make people laugh. I want to encourage people to get up and move even if they don’t feel like it because ultimately getting up and moving makes you feel better," she says.
Stoker would like to end up with four million followers to help her train for the marathon. (This would equate to a 25-mile run, getting her almost all the way to 26.2!). But whether her number of followers get her there or not, she plans on pursuing her fitness goal.
"I still want to run a marathon so I plan on training for one and running one in October. We will see if I hit that goal," she says.