Running has been a part of my life truly since the very beginning. It began with my mom, who started running kind of by accident when my sister and I were born. She had gotten out for her daily walk late and realized that if she didn't go faster, my poor father would be dealing with two hungry, screaming babies. She started running from one garbage can to the next hydro pole, stopped for a walk break, and repeated. She liked the running part, so began doing it more. Eventually, she was running the entire route, and has run six marathons and several other races since .
I grew up watching my mom run, so it was only natural that when the cross country sign ups came around in the third grade that I joined the team. I ended up being pretty good at it, and that is where my love of running began. I ran cross country and track and field in high school and in university and only stopped competing seriously when I decided to leave Canada for seven months and see some other parts of the world. This is where I found Midnight Runners, a group that has completely turned my life upside down in the best possible way.
Obviously, running has brought me a ton of physical benefits: I rarely miss a bus, if the elevator is broken it's no big deal, and my cardio (and legs) are strong enough to shut down every dance floor I come across. Where the real benefits are, however, is everything outside of the physical strength and health that running has given me.
The mental health benefits of running have been some of the most important throughout my life. Running saved me when my parents divorced when I was 12 and I developed anorexia. Being allowed to run was the carrot on the string that brought me back from the brink -and taught me to appreciate my body for what it can do, not for what it looks like.
Running is very grounding for me. It can clear my head, stretch my legs, and make any place feel like home. I don't feel as if I've truly gotten to know a place until I've run there.
Running is an easy connection with other people and places. When my sister and I were couch surfing in Bordeaux, France, the person we stayed with just happened to also be a runner. He took us on a running tour of the city that allowed us to see more than any walking tour would have. When I didn't have a place to stay while traveling in Perth, Australia, it was people I met through the local running club that took me in (shout-out to the Western Australia Marathon Club and the Lori family!).
Running has brought me adventure. From cross country and track meets around North America to crazy trail races in France and now, all the way to Latin America where we're building incredible new Midnight Runner communities, it's been a pretty wild ride.
The most invaluable thing running has brought into my life, however, is community. I can trace nearly all of my friends back to running, even if they aren't runners themselves. The friendships I have built through running have gotten me through some really tough times. Being a runner, in particular, brought me Midnight Runners, a community that from the first moment I met them treated me as if we had been friends all of our lives.
I know that in writing this, I'm not just talking about myself. Ask anyone in the global Midnight Runner community about the friendships they’ve made thanks to MR and I'm sure you'll have a hard time getting them to shut up. Really, anyone who's ever been a part of a running group or has been to the sidelines of a marathon knows the amazing feeling of being a part of this giant running community that exists all over the world.
Currently, I am writing this sitting at a desk with a view of the mountains in Bogota, Colombia, the morning after having our biggest run with Midnight Runners Bogota yet. I've been here for just a couple of months and yet have built up a family of incredible people around me that I'm sure I will be friends with for a very long time. So I guess you could say that for me, running means community, family, and a sense of belonging.
This global running day, whether you're taking your first step or your 1000th, get out there and run. It will bring you more than you can imagine.