Why We Run: August Edition - Beauty in the Struggle

Laurie Plaza

Running for Michelle has become a lifeline…which is interesting because when she started she didn’t even like running.

Michelle woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and knew something needed to change. She realized that if she continued on the path she was on she would not live to see her children grow up. During this time Michelle was overweight, on several anxiety and antidepressant medications, and she was a smoker. That morning she knew she needed to turn her life around, but had no idea how to begin. So she took the dog out for a walk to clear her mind. She walked for three miles that day. The next day she dropped her kids off at school and walked again. She did this day after day for months.

After several months of walking her daughter asked her to go on a bike ride. She borrowed her husband’s bike and hit the road. She really enjoyed that bike ride and it even reminded her of how much she loved riding as a young girl. After that first bike ride with her daughter she started riding a few times a week. The following Mother’s Day her husband and children gifted her a new Trek mountain bike. She rode daily from that point on.

Once Michelle was riding and walk/jogging regularly she was challenged by a friend to do a sprint triathlon. She was hesitant at first, thinking that she wouldn’t be able to meet the challenge, but several friends helped her train. Michelle says, “I hated running when I started. I complained all the time about it. Then I had a friend say: stick with it, I know it’s hard and very few people love it at first BUT stick with it, you will turn the corner and never look back.”

Nowadays Michelle almost exclusively runs. She runs to deal with a range of emotions; depression, grief, anger, to find joy, but mostly because when she runs she is becoming a better version of herself. When running she has the opportunity to find clarity about various situations, talk to God, and push herself beyond what she thinks she is capable of. Running has built up her confidence to the point that she feels fortunate to be able to run. Even the hard runs are still something to be grateful for.

In her own words Michelle says, “Running has taught me that I can show up for myself, and doing that gives me the capacity to show up for others. It helps me handle big emotions in a more positive and focused way. My best friend recently passed away after a grueling 19 months with cancer- running was a lifeline to my sanity, it allowed me the space to process things I didn’t understand and to be a beautiful disaster on the really hard days - with no judgement. It isn’t a magic bullet but running never lets me wander far away from who I am. It allows me to plug into something bigger than me. It’s very meditative for me.”

On days when she doesn’t feel like running, she does the hardest part and laces up her shoes. She then puts one foot in front of the other knowing that one way or another things will work themselves out because running has taught her that there is beauty in the struggle.


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