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Finding Strength Through Running: Maren Williams’ Journey

Finding Strength Through Running Maren Williams Run Tri Bike
Maren Williams
Year started: 2008
Next race: April 28, 2024 / Glass City Marathon / Toledo, OH
Favorite gear:
  • Brooks Ghost
  • Brooks Max
  • Brooks Levitate

In a small town in Ohio, Maren Williams found peace in the winding roads and serene landscapes that stretched out before her. Her journey into the world of running wasn’t marked by a desire to compete or chase after medals. It began as a quiet realization during her time in graduate school and eventually became a way for her to find strength through running. “I never ran in high school,” Maren reflects, “but seeing former soccer players turn to running for fun sparked something in me. It was a hobby I wanted to explore.”

As she laced up her shoes and ventured out into the world of running, Maren discovered more than just physical exertion. Running became her sanctuary, a place where she could confront the challenges life had thrown her way. From coping with the devastating loss of her father to navigating the complexities of an abusive relationship, Maren found solace in the rhythm of her footsteps and the steady beat of her heart. “Running became a coping mechanism,” she shares. “It was my way of processing the pain and finding strength through running to keep moving forward.”

Overcoming Mental Health Challenges

For Maren, running wasn’t just about logging miles; it was a lifeline that helped her navigate the turbulent waters of PTSD and disordered eating. “After my father’s suicide, I was diagnosed with PTSD,” Maren recalls. “Running became a way for me to cope with the overwhelming emotions and flashbacks that haunted me.” With each step, Maren found a sense of empowerment. She was reclaiming control over her mental well-being.

But the road to recovery was fraught with obstacles. These included a battle with disordered eating that spanned over a decade. “I turned to food for comfort as a child,” Maren explains, “but as I grew older, I spiraled into unhealthy patterns of restriction and obsession.” It wasn’t until a close call with her health that Maren sought help and embarked on a journey towards healing. “I realized I needed to prioritize my well-being,” she says. “Running played a pivotal role in my recovery, offering me a sense of clarity and purpose.”


Navigating Discrimination and Finding Community

Living in a tight-knit community where everyone knows your name can be both a blessing and a curse. For Maren, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community in a small town brought its own set of challenges. “People here are very traditional,” Maren explains. “Being openly gay is still met with confusion and judgment.” But amidst the prying eyes and whispered rumors, Maren found refuge in her runs. “Running allowed me to escape the scrutiny and just be myself,” she says. “It was a reminder that my identity was valid, regardless of what others may think.”

Finding acceptance wasn’t easy, but Maren discovered a sense of belonging in online communities like Threads and Instagram. “Connecting with like-minded individuals who shared my passion for running was incredibly empowering,” she shares. “It was a safe space where I could be myself without fear of judgment.” Through these platforms, Maren found camaraderie and support, reminding her that she was never alone in her journey.

A Coach, A Mentor, A Lifeline

In her quest for growth and self-improvement, Maren sought guidance from Eliana Lin, PT, DPT, a holistic running coach based in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she is the owner of Up and Running Performance. “Eliana has been more than just a coach; she’s been a mentor and a lifeline,” Maren says. With Eliana’s support, Maren embarked on a journey of holistic healing, addressing not just her physical fitness but also her mental and emotional well-being. “Having someone to guide me and hold me accountable has been invaluable,” she adds. “It’s given me the structure and support I needed to thrive.”

Through Eliana’s guidance, Maren has embraced a balanced approach to training. She is incorporating strength workouts, cross-training, and mindful practices into her routine. “I’ve learned to listen to my body and honor its needs,” Maren explains. “It’s not just about chasing after PRs; it’s about nurturing my overall health and well-being.”

Embracing Resilience

As Maren continues her journey, she reflects on the obstacles she’s overcome and the strength she’s gained along the way. “Running has taught me that resilience isn’t about never facing challenges; it’s about finding the courage to confront them head-on,” she says. “It’s about embracing vulnerability and allowing ourselves to be seen, flaws and all.”

For Maren, running is more than just a physical activity. “Each step I take is a reminder of how far I’ve come and how much stronger I’ve become,” she shares. “Running has given me the strength to face my demons. It has also given me the courage to chase my dreams, and the resilience to keep moving forward, one stride at a time.”

In a world filled with uncertainties and obstacles, Maren’s story reminds us that even in our darkest moments, we have the power to rise above. So, whether you’re facing your own battles or simply seeking solace in the rhythm of your footsteps, remember Maren’s story and find the strength through running that lies within each stride.