Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
When I first started running as a 20-something college student years ago, it was all about my weight. Running was just another way to burn calories. I never could have imagined that running would become a central part of my life, not just as a daily activity but the way in which I’ve made connections and established friendships.
I spent this past weekend at an all-women’s running retreat in Maine, Rise.Run.Retreat. And during that weekend I learned that for many of us running is so much MORE than just running.
When we tell the story of finding running, it really is a story of finding strength in ourselves and strength in numbers.
For me, running showed me that I was strong enough to make what seemed impossible a reality. When I ran my first marathon I crossed the finish line amazed at my accomplishment. I did something I never thought I could do.
Years later the experience of running Hood to Coast, a 200 mile relay race in Oregon, with a group of inspirational women opened me up to a whole new experience: the power of the running community. In that relay I ran harder than I ever thought I could, cheered on by the women on my team who believed in me when I felt doubt.
And this weekend at the retreat, surrounded by women who love running I was reminded that for each of us running is transformational. It has transformed our minds when we’ve been lost and discouraged. It has transformed our bodies when we’ve thought of ourselves as weak or incapable. And it has transformed our hearts through relationships. Running isn’t just about the exercise, it’s so much more than that. Running is a powerful medium through which we discover who we are and connect with others who are on the same journey.