How Running From My Problems Helped Me Find My Purpose

I was talking with a friend about why new runners or people who aren't used to feeling athletic struggle to call themselves runners. Personally, it wasn't until I ran a marathon that I actually felt like a runner which is ridiculous because now, I know that anyone who runs, fast or slow, is a runner.

For years, I had developed a habit of quitting anything that I wasn't innately good at. I struggled with my weight and spent decades consumed with the fact that working out was the worst thing to ever happen to me. Physical activity made me feel terrible about myself so to avoid the disappointment I experienced every time I gave up on a weight loss goal, I convinced myself that I wasn't a runner or that I wasn't an athletic person. Having labeled myself as "nonathletic" made my disdain for physical activity feel less like a personal failure and more like a fact of the universe.

Then my brother died and I found myself in the eye of a never ending storm. I sat in a pause, waiting patiently for someone to help me find a purpose or to show me how to survive my unimaginable loss. So I did what I now know thousands of people do when their life falls apart, and I started physically running from my problems.

If there is one thing running has taught me, it's that you can't let fear stop you from moving forward. For 19 years I lived my life sure of myself, confident and in control but after my brother passed away, nothing made sense anymore. The path I was traveling on dissipated and I was drowning in my own mortality. Running literally gave me a way to put one foot in front of the other, as cheesy as that sounds, it taught me that you don't need to know where you're going in order to move forward. Life is one huge leap of faith and as long as you want to survive, your resilience will help you endure whatever life throws your way.

Running showed me how to move towards something that I thought was impossible. I was intimidated, terrified, uncomfortable and afraid every step of the way but in the blink of an eye, I went from non-runner to marathoner and looking back, I wish I would have leaned into the unknown sooner. I don't regret that year I spent too terrified to move forward with my life because I needed that time to learn that I can't sit back and wait for opportunities to come to me.

Whatever you do, don't let fear or doubt stop you from doing something that feels impossible. Patience is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself whenever you're facing a challenge. Second guessing yourself is natural but it's OK to move forward even if you don't know where you're going. We're all capable of so much more than what's comfortable. Dare to challenge yourself, question yourself, and try new things. You're bound to hit speed bumps and detours, just welcome them with open arms. Believe in yourself. You'll figure it out.

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.