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Why I Run

**Trigger Warning-infertility and miscarriage **

Why do I run?

It’s a simple question with a not so simple answer. I could say I run for my health; physical and mental. To be honest, though, that only scratches the surface. To find the real answer we have to go back a few years.

Battling Infertility:

About 4 years ago I lost a years long battle with infertility. My husband and I struggled for years to get pregnant. Both mentally and physically, we tried everything we could afford to do.. When that journey came to an end I was devastated. I finally took the advice of those around me and got help. I found an amazing therapist. It was so incredibly hard for me to open up to her, but slowly, I shared more and more.

Over our first year together my therapist would mention how exercise is a good outlet for anxiety and depression and could probably help me. She suggested running, as that was something near and dear to her own heart.

I laughed it off. Me, run? That’s hilarious. After a while, though, it started to sink in that maybe she was onto something. Maybe I could give this running thing a try.

I ran a 5k a while back. So, it’s not impossible.

Running Through the Pain:

That was the start of this amazing journey. Literally one small step out my front door was actually a huge step. I started small and gave myself little goals. I was frustrated at first because I couldn’t even run around the block when I started.

Eventually, I began thinking about all my struggles. Everything that had been building up inside me. My anger, my sadness, my anxieties, my embarrassment, my depression, my fears, and my hatred for myself and put all of that into my running. I started to realize that running helped me focus all those feelings. They weren’t bottled up inside anymore. I had a healthy outlet for them.

I also realized that one major issue I had was that I hated my body for not doing the one thing a woman’s body is supposed to do. I blamed myself. So, I told myself that I may not be able to make a baby, but I sure will be able to run around this block. I sure will be able to run a 5k, a 10k, and a half!

And guess what? I did all those things. Running was my secret source of power. Running helped me get through my darkest moments and helped me realize I am not all of those things I was thinking about myself. I am strong. I just ran 13.1 miles!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back:

Then I had a setback. My husband and I got spontaneously pregnant. Nobody knew how it happened, but it did. We were beyond excited. The life we had wanted and thought we lost was actually coming true. We could not contain our hopes and excitement.

When you get pregnant you instantly start to make plans. Your brain makes a life for your family. It’s not just day by day. Its years by years. You look forward so far, it’s hard to stop. So, when you walk into that doctor’s appointment with those high hopes and dreams and get told “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat,” the world you had planned implodes.

It’s hard to go back to the life you had known before that. My mental health took a major nosedive. I crashed and burned and so did my running. I didn’t run for the longest time. What was the point?

I was so lucky to already have the greatest support system in place with my therapist, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. She helped me through it and helped me get back on my running path. If it wasn’t for her and running to focus all the major feelings I had, I don’t think I would have made it out of that dark place.

Finding My Way Back:

Once I was back on the running road again, I realized that maybe running a full marathon wasn’t too far-fetched after all. I needed something to focus all my thoughts and feelings on and decided that was what I was going to do.

When I say I needed something to focus on, that’s an understatement. I had so many thoughts and feelings it was hard to focus on anything else in my life. Marathon training is not easy! So, it was the perfect solution. When it came to marathon training, I had great days, and I had some really hard days. The thing that got me through it though was reminding myself of one statement the whole time I trained, “My body may not be able to do what a woman’s body should do but it sure is going to run a full marathon and that’s something only 1% of the world’s population has done and that’s pretty dang amazing!!”

My thoughts about myself and my body were very negative, but I was working on building myself back up. I truly believe that running has been the one thing that has helped me build up my self-esteem. Through training, I was able to build up mental and physical strength and I showed up to that marathon day with a strength I never knew would have been possible.

I ran that full marathon and I finished!

The feelings I had were so overwhelming I didn’t even know what to think or how to feel, but the one thing I knew was that I was strong! I was with two friends who said I would not stop smiling. Even when I was just sitting there staring off into space, I was smiling.

I had accomplished something amazing, and I was proud. I hadn’t been proud of myself in a very long time. I couldn’t remember a time I had had so many positive thoughts and feelings about myself. It was pure joy. The strength it took to process my grief, to handle what life was throwing at me, to be strong for my husband, to keep going with my daily life, and run that marathon was in me all along. I just had to find it and I did.

Running Toward a Better Me:

To me running and mental health go hand in hand. I believe that if I had not started therapy and if I had not started running, I would not be where I am today. If I had only done one or the other, I would not be where I am today. I even started an Instagram account to show my running progress and to be open and honest about mental health because I know others are going through the same stuff.

I know for a fact there are others out there going through infertility and miscarriage and feeling so alone. You are not! Even if you are not going through those specific things but are dealing with anxiety or depression or any other mental health disorder, you are not alone. I want people to see there is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide if you are struggling with your mental health in any way.

Hiding it doesn’t help. I hid my feelings for a long while and it made things worse for me. Letting it out and talking to someone was by far the best decision I have ever made in my life. Especially since she is the one who nudged me toward running, and that is probably another top 5 decisions of my life. I am not healed. I am still grieving. I struggle daily. I have great days. I have bad days. I have mediocre days. All in all, though I am here, and I am working on my mental health, and I am running towards a better me and so can you!


By Sarah Olsen

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