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Real Runners: A Runner’s Journey Toward Healing

This reader-submitted story shares the motivational mantras one runner created to inspire herself to become a stronger runner.

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When we run there is a start, an end point in mind, but healing takes place during the run between that space. Running became a time for me to think, to feel, to meditate, to heal. It was my sacred space to nourish my body, give motion to feeling and to let pain pound pavement. Although I ran miles, healing took place in inches. It was a slow process, one that took several years. As you get stronger and more conditioned, you can go longer. In healing, I was able to go deeper. I wrote this running mantra and read it daily as a meditation practice until my time came to hit the pavement.

MOVE: A Runner’s Mantra For Healing

The goal: finish the race and finish it well. Don’t make room for negative thoughts to dwell. Train. Train your whole self…mind, body and soul. It’s up for the challenge; embrace what is and stay in balance; fuel your body with the things it needs. Listen; show it grace; set a steady pace; pay attention to where your heart leads. Go; now run the race–not too fast to risk getting hurt, not too slow to risk never getting there. Something comfortable that pushes you: a place you can still find yourself singing, too. That twinge in your knee, it’s like the twinge in your heart. Don’t ignore it; don’t give in to it; don’t stop. The pain will give way to a newfound strength and energy, one where you feel lighter on your feet with more air to breathe. You and trail are one. Synergy: you’re really moving now. The mile markers fly past; you know you will get there. The high is real, it’s pure; you are a survivor and you know it for sure. The finish line in the distance–you’re headed that way. You can picture it, so you run on today, ignoring any resistance.

While I didn’t consider myself a poet when I wrote this, it seemed to just flow out of me and became my running affirmation, my mantra. It helped me stay focused and allowed me to see its purpose. When guilt of taking time for myself ran rampant, I read this mantra and found solace in how running for myself, for healing, could be a selfless act. Giving to myself and finding peace in my run, in this journey called life, would allow me to be there for my family in ways that I hadn’t been before.

My runs became symbolic of where I was emotionally. Some runs were hilly and full of tough climbs, while others were flat with beautiful ocean crashing through the landscape. I ran through trees and pastures. California, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and more all became places that my feet explored. I saw these places in a new way and found myself along the way. I knew that all my life I had been running from something; I didn’t want to see it, didn’t want to feel it. The time had come where I needed to run toward it, not from it; to face it and feel.

I run

From what?

To what?



Close my eyes

Feel everything and nothing all at once

Arms extend

Toward the sky I reach

The sky falls down, not on me but in me

The clouds a soft place to fall

Fresh air

Breathe out the old, in the new



A bird’s eye view of what’s important

High above pain, worry, fear

Floating through a field of clarity

Reflecting beauty



Feet back on the ground

Feeling sand

Seeing waves

Standing tall


Present and still

Picking up one foot at a time

I run

My past a gentle reminder

My future a hopeful glance

My present I am in, my motivation

I run towards peace, joy, happiness, and true self

For quite some time my runs were about pain, about hitting the ground and releasing anger, letting tears flow as my body grew tired. Then my runs and my healing became a more beautiful thing, about seeing the new. The aches and the sore muscles were just my soul and heart being stretched. Stretching and learning what it means to be me, no longer trying to forget. My stride became stronger, my muscles began remembering the route, leaning in to forgiveness and enjoying the pursuit. No longer did getting ready for my run take work; I looked forward to running, wondering what I might learn. I began finding joy in the journey of the run.

On my run I see so much

The musician on his guitar, sound given to emotions

The artist behind his canvas, images given to soul purpose

The athlete pushing the pedals, giving motion to dreams

The onlooker at the edge of the waves, filling her heart inspiringly

The people out enjoying the day, finding good in what could be seen as mundane

And me, on my run

Seeing so much, embracing this run we call life and soaking it up

One last run on the beach before I move on

The unsettled sea, not scary to me

The crashing waves a reflection of the exciting uncertain treasures the tide will bring

Grey clouds in the sky speak less of storms and more of nature’s healing waters

Like the surfers I watch riding the waves, I stand up, get my balance and open my soul to the thrill that’s about to unfold

And when I crash, because I surely will, I’ll find beauty in it and get right back up

Letting the tide, the clouds and this run I’m on show me how to move on

And I run on. I continue to heal, for it is a process–one that takes you on interesting runs. The goal is to find the unexpected beauty in it all.

Unexpected beauty

My stride cut short

I see unexpected beauty

It’s all around me

A leaf, outstretched edges

Like wings

Floats, weightless on the breeze

No resistance, just flow

It lands exactly where it is supposed to be

The wispy clouds move and shift

A heart is formed

Pure and perfect white against the brightest blue

The sky speaking truth to me

A familiar face, no name needed

I’ve seem them before

A reminder of connection

In a great big world

A gift, no feeling alone anymore

The rays of yellow light

Fall on my body, touch me

Warming me

Feeling the awesomeness of this place

Drink it, soak it up, let it be

My stride cut short

I see unexpected beauty

It’s all around me


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