I started running in my mid 20s. I decided to complete my first half marathon when I was 28, that was my first time really training for a race and dedicating time to running. I was at a point in my life where I just couldn't seem to focus. I had started to have anxiety issues and panic attacks. I decided to run a half marathon, not because I thought running would help me, but because I needed a goal and something to focus on. As I trained for that first half marathon I discovered how much my heart, brain, and body loved to run.
I found that on the road my mind cleared and my heart felt free of everything else. My body focused on my feet moving forward. When I would finish I would walk away feeling lighter. My anxiety decreased immediately. I found myself able to focus on the world around me once again.
Running still has this effect on me. Many people joke that running is therapy, it is one of those jokes that also holds true to many individuals. Reminds me of a quote I heard a lot growing up, "Many a true words are spoken in jest."
Along my running journey I have had the opportunity to hear many others share their own stories and express what running has done for them. One group of people that immediately come to mind is a group here called Addicts to Athletes. My husband and I ran into this group during a relay race years ago. Shortly after we found out that it was a group close to home and started by a friend's brother-in-law. My husband loved what this group represented and immediately got involved. Unfortunately we have crazy lives and have not been able to stay very active with this group. Addict to Athlete (AIIA) has your standard weekly meetings where addicts and their families come together to learn, grow, and talk. But at the end of that meeting there is no coffee and doughnuts, instead everyone heads out for a group run or walk. Throughout the year these individuals will run races together. They will run as individuals, as a group, and often in proxy for someone who couldn't find their way out of addiction. This is a group that understands there is so much more to running than putting on your shoes in hopes of fitting into those skinny jeans.
As I ran today I found myself smiling, a happy soul moving forward one step at time.