Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why I Run

Some of you may have read my previous blog posts talking about how I turned my life around in 2008. In 2008, after my ex and I separated, for the first time in my life I realized I had time for me. I was obese and was facing many health issues including high cholesterol and depression. I lost all the weight by walking.  I never thought I’d ever be a runner or be running long distances! Sometimes I had a feeling like I wanted to fly. I wanted to run. I wanted to be free. FREE. I wanted to run but I was shy and did not know I could. I started running a few minutes during my long walks.  I ran where nobody could see me at first. Gradually, I gathered courage and did not care who watched me. My runs were sporadic but nonetheless, they helped me when I needed an outlet to let go of my anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.

It took me three more years after some events which triggered underlying traumas in my life that I understood the reason behind my depression, the weight gain, the guilt, the blame, the fear, anxiety, and everything else that have affected me negatively. My life has not been an easy one. Those who I have shared a bit here and there tell me I should write a book. I have faced many struggles which I don’t think I’m ready to share in completion with the world yet. Through therapy in 2011 and 2012, I have learned a bit more about myself and learned to accept and love myself for who I am. It has not been an easy journey but I’m taking it one day at a time.

My favourite all time quote of Maya Angelou is the one that says: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” My past may have shaped who I am today, but I make a conscience effort every day to live a full life and focus on positives. I make time to play and have fun. I surround myself with those who treat me with kindness, love, and fairness. I make time to support refugees and human rights related causes. I try to be a better person. I try to be more intentional about my daily routine and to respect myself and those around me. I may not be perfect, I may not be able to do it all, but I do what I can to live a meaningful life every day. Running has facilitated for all the positive changes in my life to take place.

My reasons for running have changed over time as well. When I started running I wanted to keep the weight off, and I wanted to be healthy and fit. Gradually, I recognized I was putting my running shoes on to get rid of stress, anger, sadness or depression. During my runs I recognized how the feeling of being in control of my emotions and having the freedom to run was important to my sanity. Running allowed me to think things over and make better decisions.

I love running in all seasons and marveled at being in nature. I love the feeling of wet rain on my face, the sweat dripping down on my back, feeling cold air on my cheeks; and I love the smell of rain and pine trees. Running has allowed me to bring balance into my life. Running has also taught me not only to care for myself but also to care for those who are disadvantaged. I’m a more compassionate person because of it. “I learned to give not because I have much but because I know exactly how it feels to have nothing.” I care about human rights. I may not be your typical full time activist. I may not be your typical politician, or your typical community engager.  I care about many issues. I’m very much interested to know what’s happening in the real world. I may not be sitting in one of your meetings or standing with you at your picket lines. I may not be with you at your demonstrations against injustices. But I am very much a supporter and defender of human rights. Social media and online petitions, especially those of Amnesty pertaining to prisoners of conscience, have provided me the opportunity to support those issues I’m passionate about.

I am running my first marathon in October in Toronto. I am dedicating my run to all the prisoners of conscience around the world and have chosen Amnesty International as my charity of choice to fundraise from now till October 19th, 2014. I am going to cross the finish line for all of those who are not going to see their families, those who miss the birth of their children, those who can’t attend the funeral of a loved one, those who don’t see their kids’ growing up, those who will never recover from their trauma and those who lose their lives behind the bars of injustice. I run for their FREEDOM and to show gratitude for my FREEDOM.

If you would like to support human rights please click here and sponsor me to raise funds for Amnesty International.

A short running history: I have been running on a more regular basis since the summer of 2013. Prior to my first ½ marathon in November 2013, I had done a couple of 5K races just to test my own abilities. I acquired hamstring injuries due to being a rookie and not knowing I should increase mileage gradually and those who were supposedly pros also failed to tell me! Since then, I have educated myself about the sport by reading and following pros via Twitter. I still feel the injury flaring up whenever speed comes to play! This past spring, I was hit by severe low iron deficiency and had to cancel my Ottawa ½ marathon race in May.  I just started my marathon training a few weeks ago and am slowly building my strength. My goal is to cross the finish in line in a decent time without any injury or any other health issues.

Follow my journey on Instagram and Twitter @nomadicrunner45 - I don't have Facebook and don't plan in getting one.

Learn more about Amnesty International here.

 “The candle burns not for us, but for all those whom we failed to rescue from prison, who were shot on the way to prison, who were tortured, who were kidnapped, who "disappeared". That's what the candle is for.”
 ~ Peter Benenson ~

Yesterday, I dedicated my 15K long run to the 15 year old who was in prison at the time -  Tariq Abukhdeir. 

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