Embracing Running For Healing
A Personal Loss: Sudden Cardiac Death and the Impetus for Change
Sudden cardiac death took my dad from me when he was 67 years old, and I was 38. Two months later, I found myself preoccupied with my own cardiovascular health. I felt compelled to take action to ensure I was doing everything within my power to live a long and satisfying life. Having battled weight cycling, diet culture, and low self-esteem my whole life, I was searching for a way to take care of my heart and lungs without negativity.
The Unexpected Discovery: The Fat Athlete’s Half Marathon Program
One late night, as I mindlessly scrolled through my social media feed, an ad caught my attention. It was for The Fat Athlete’s half marathon program. Something about it intrigued me—the idea of running long distances in a body that is not generally associated with endurance sports, and coaching others to do the same. Without thinking twice, I impulsively signed up. Little did I know that this impulsive decision would be the first step on a transformative journey.
The program, led by the amazing Marci Braithwaite, quickly became a key part of my identity, my physical health, and my mental wellness. I completed the half marathon and am currently working on improving my 5k pace. In the hundreds of miles and hours spent on the trail, I have gained strength, endurance, healing, and perspective. I’ve learned to push myself physically while being gentler with myself emotionally. Running has helped me work through my grief, celebrate my accomplishments, manage my stress, and cheer myself on.
Gratitude in Every Step: Embracing the Joy of Movement
Every day, as I lace up my shoes and hit the dirt, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to move my body, to challenge myself, and to discover what I am truly capable of. But I am also grateful for something more—the online community created by Marci, where runners like me feel at home.
This community is a place of support and camaraderie. Though we may live in different parts of the country and come from diverse backgrounds, we all share the experience of feeling like we don’t fit the mold in the sports community. It’s a place where we celebrate each other’s achievements, share our struggles, ask questions without fear of judgment, and receive valuable advice.
Envisioning a Bright Future: Setting Goals and Embracing Growth
Looking ahead, I envision my future in endurance sports filled with exciting goals and continued growth. I have a specific time in mind for my 5k pace, and once I achieve that, I plan to extend that same pace to longer distances. But more importantly, I want to savor every moment of my journey. Life is unpredictable, and while I love working towards goals, I am grateful for each day I get to spend my “happy hour” on the dirt.
Embracing Fearlessness: Overcoming Barriers to Discover New Possibilities
If there’s one thing I would tell someone who finds themselves in my shoes before I discovered this incredible community, it’s this: don’t let fear hold you back. Fear is real, but it doesn’t have to control us. The worst-case scenario is that you try running, and if you don’t enjoy it, you can always stop. But taking that first step, overcoming the fear of the unknown, opens up a world of possibilities. There is room and support for everyone who wants to participate in endurance sports, despite any doubts or insecurities.
And if I could offer one tip to beginners, it would be to find the right shoes. Don’t be shy about seeking proper footwear that fits you well. Your local running store has a return policy for a reason. Take advantage of it and find the shoes that provide the comfort and support you need. Trust me; it makes a world of difference.
Lacing Up and Running Towards a Brighter, Healthier Future
So here I am, a runner with a renewed spirit. I’m spreading my story in the hopes that it resonates with others. Running has become more than just a means to improve my cardiovascular health. It has become a source of healing, joy, and connection. And I invite you to join me on this journey, to embrace the transformative power of movement and the beauty of a supportive community. Lace up your shoes, hit the trail, and let’s run towards a brighter, healthier future together.