“Never underestimate the power of passion.” ~Eve Sawyer
I am a runner in my heart and in my body. Running has provided me with so many life lessons that I cannot even count them. But having to fight for running has given me the most important ones.
I still remember that day in September of 2002 when I went to my first cross-country practice. The coach told me it would only be an easy six-miler.
Only? Easy? And a six-miler?
“How does that even belong to the same sentence?” I wondered. I didn’t even know what miles were (being originally from Europe I only knew kilometers up until that point), but I sensed that six miles was somehow just way too long.
You see, until 2002, I was an anti-sport, anti-activity, never-ran-a-step-in-my-life, skinny-fat couch potato. I walked the gym mile and even failed gym. Athletics wasn’t in my genes.
Yet, there I was, at my first cross-country practice suffering through a so-called “easy six-miler.” It’s something that’s easy and short for me now, but back in 2012 it was a pain every step along the way. But I finished.
My life forever changed that day. I ran my first race four days later. I fell in love with running forever.
I improved quickly and steadily. I ended up continuing my college running on scholarship. I was All-State, All-Conference, All-Academic team, and I broke my personal record often.
I worked extremely hard. I was a little running machine. I was a bit of a maniac.
Post-college I started road racing: 5K-s, 10K-s, half marathons, and more. I ran my first marathon with a Boston Qualifying time… then I got hurt.
To this day I am not sure what happened. It wasn’t an acute pain, and I hadn’t run through some pain leaving me with a chronic issue. But from one day to another I had terrible hip pain. I couldn’t run; even sitting was painful.
The MRIs and bone scans proved that it was not a stress fracture, it wasn’t a labrum tear or other cartilage issue, and it was not tendonitis—but it was an excruciating pain. I saw many doctors and physical therapists. Nothing helped.
I did all the exercises I was prescribed. I wore the clunky motion control shoes with orthotics and heel lifts, as recommended. I did it all. Yet, I was not getting better.
I was in pain for over two years. Sometimes it was better and I could sit and walk pain-free. Sometimes getting out of bed was a question mark. Actual running was pretty much out of the question. But I longed for running and remained a runner in my heart.
I kept searching and finally found my answer.
A chiropractor suggested to change shoes: drop the ideas from other doctors, physical therapists, and shoe store employees; take the orthotics out, leave the heal lift behind, throw away the clunky motion control shoes, and go more natural. Just get some regular shoes without any fancy inserts and without any “new technology.”
I had nothing to lose. I tried it. Within weeks I was able to run again.
It has been two years since then. I’ve been running pain-free. I am training and racing again. I am not only a runner in my heart but also in action. Through this experience, I’ve learned:
1. Do not take anything for granted.
I appreciated running from that first six-miler on, but I have to admit, since it was in my life every day I somewhat took it for granted. Now, I say thanks every single day for all my past and present running experiences. I start and finish my runs with gratitude for the happiness, freedom, clarity, and connection to nature and health it brings me.
You never know what is going to happen in the future, so don’t take things granted. Be thankful for people, activities, things, and experiences in your life. If you love somebody, tell them every day.
2. There are lessons behind every challenge.
Throughout the years of being hurt I asked, “Why?” so many times: “Why me? Why now? Why? Why? Why?”
The reality is that having to fight to get running back into my life taught me so much that I would not have learned without getting hurt.
I learned that I have an enormous amount of strength and will power. I learned to be patient. I learned to trust. I learned how to find passion in life besides running. And I learned not take anything in life for granted. These lessons were reason enough to go through the pain.
You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to think that everything has a reason. Just keep in mind that there is a lesson to be learned behind every single experience—and then choose to find it.
3. Trust the process.
I always knew I would run again. I didn’t know what my answer would be—how I would heal and when I’d be back on the roads—but I knew that I meant to be running again, so I trusted the process.
Trust wasn’t just a crutch to help me through the difficult times, but more like an inner-guide and certainty that this, combined with time and effort, would guide me to my answer, whatever that may have been.
Life can get crazy and chaotic. Sometimes you feel like you are lost in the forest and don’t know your way out. But trust the process. Always trust that eventually you find what you are looking for. If you trust the process, you will.
4. Be open to try anything.
Imagine if I had been closed-minded. I would have never trusted my chiropractor’s shoe advice. I would not be running pain-free today.
No matter how crazy or unconventional something sounds, always keep an open mind. Be willing to give anything a shot that resonates with you even a bit. It just may change your life for the better.
5. Never give up.
I was in pain and out of running for over two years. Yet, I never gave up. I am running today because I held onto my passion.
No matter how tough things get, never give up on your dreams. Remember, it can’t rain forever. After the rain there is sunshine, everything will be brighter, and you will be happy for having stayed the course.
6. Live with passion.
Running is my passion and it makes me feel alive, happy, and free. I am able to transfer the joy, happiness, energy, freedom, and clarity I receive from running to other areas of my life, including relationships and work. Thus, my passion for running makes my other areas of life more beautiful too.
Having a passion and living passionately is key to living happy and healthy life. So go find you passion. Use your passion. Live with passion.
Photo by Aaron