I have always loved that people use running to improve something or to prove something important in their lives. Many runners who have to struggle with health issues use running to prove they are stronger than a health issue. It is the symbol of their fight and their determination to overcome the negative and turn it into a positive. Here are a few of the stories I have heard when someone uses running to prove something.
Maurice is a man who approached me at a small 5k and told me he had a rare health issue that caused fluid to build up in his brain. He had already had 15 operations to drain the fluid. He had the most positive attitude despite this. He told me that he ran to show his daughters that he was strong, and he would not let anything hold him back. He wanted to prove that you should never give up.
I met Evelyn in the registration line. She told me she had cancer. I said I was impressed by how brave she was and inspired that she refused to make excuses to not exercise. She told me running proved she was stronger than the disease. As long as she could run, the cancer had not won.
My friend Nancy had been diagnosed with her second round of breast cancer. She asked me to do a race called the muddy buddy. Participants ran together with a buddy and completed various obstacles. You had to stay with your buddy for the whole race. Nancy wanted to do the race to prove she was still an athlete. We were at one obstacle that required arm strength. Nancy couldn’t do it, so she turned to me and said, “Next year.”
Kathy was a woman I met at an ultra-marathon. She had been in a car accident that had caused broken bones and head injuries. It took years to recover, but she was determined to run again because that was her symbol of being normal. She needed to prove she had recovered.
Michael told me his story in the parking lot of a Run for Recovery 5k. He told me that running saved him from an addiction that was killing him. Running requires hard work, dedication, and strength, and so does beating an addiction. Running is a way to prove that the body can overcome adversity.
Today, I heard another story from my new friend Laurel. We were running in a 10k trail race and there was a group of us running together. Laurel was right behind me, and we were talking about running when I told her I had written a book about how running heals people. She said, “Jen, I just got goosebumps. I think I was supposed to meet you today. I’ve never spoken about this with anyone else but running proved to me that there was hope when I was going through a nasty divorce. I developed an eating disorder from the stress of the divorce and running gave me something I could control as well as an outlet for my stress. It saved me.”
I have heard so many stories like the ones I have mentioned here. Running proves there is a way to be stronger, rebuild, and carry on.