Brenda Rivera is from Miami, Florida, and currently lives in Pembrooke Pines, Florida, where she
runs her own Still I Run chapter in the greater Miami area. Brenda’s running journey began two
years ago, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She initially started running for health,
working through physical ailments as well as her own struggles with anxiety and depression.
Brenda was going through the process of weight loss surgery. The day she was supposed to
receive gastric bypass, her vitals didn’t check out and they had to wait to proceed with the
procedure. Rivera took it as a sign she was supposed to do something else for weight loss and felt encouraged to continue her journey on a different path. This is when Brenda began running.
Running for her Physical and Mental Health
“I’m not going to focus on a number, I’m not going to focus on an image, I’m going to focus on
my health,” stated Rivera during a one-on-one interview for Still I Run. Within less than a year
of her new weight loss journey, all of her blood work and test results turned from red to green. As she started falling in love with running, she noticed it helped her cope better with personal
struggles that previously increased her levels of anxiety and depression.
Rivera, diagnosed with PTSD, found answers and explanations to many challenges she faced in
adolescence through running. “It became my escape, my passion, my challenge, and that thing
that no one can give me because you have to work for it yourself,” she concluded. Rivera chose
to fight for mental wellness along with her physical health.
She says she’s “a living testimony of the reaping benefits that running for mental health creates.”
Rivera’s choice to be healthy has spurred an already impressive and motivational running career.
She ran her first marathon in January of this past year in Disney World. She signed up for the
“Goofy Challenge,” which included running a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on
Sunday for a total of 39.3 miles. “It was a personal challenge,” stated Brenda, and “part of the
healing process for mental health insecurities and self-doubt.” She recounted how rewarding and emotional of an experience it was. With her family's support and her own strength, she made it through to the finish line.
Running for Still I Run
Applying to run for Still I Run's TCS New York City Marathon Team left Brenda hopeful, but also with the assumption that she probably wouldn’t be selected out of the 100+ candidates that applied. She poured out her heart, completed the process with open honesty, and applied. After finding out her acceptance on Mother’s Day weekend, Rivera was filled with emotions. “Being able to run for an organization that is so close to my heart, and I am so passionate about, as well as being able to represent SIR is something I’m looking forward to,” said Rivera.
Brenda is following the SIR beginners training plan for the TCS New York City Marathon which
includes five days of running and two days of rest. She tailored it to fit her personal schedule. Brenda hopes to raise awareness for mental health by running for SIR. “Mental health wasn’t something talked about a lot in my family growing up and it was hard for my parents to understand,” she said. “You think of someone feeling that way and they’re often labeled by it, but they shouldn’t be. I want to help raise awareness for SIR because it’s the country's only nonprofit organization for running for mental health,” Brenda recalled.
Brenda also wants to feel like at the end of the race that she has contributed to something greater through raising awareness, representation of the mental health community, and funds to support runners and the SIR organization moving forward. “I want to be able to say if I can do it, you can do it too.”
We are so proud and excited to have Brenda running as part of the Team Still I Run's TCS NYC
We want to recognize and do a shoutout for the amazing businesses that have stepped up to sponsor our NYC team and runners! Please go check them out!