For elite competitors and recreational joggers alike, running can become a reason to wake up in the morning and an incentive to get through the day.
But all of us fall short in terms of motivation and inspiration at some point, and that’s where other people’s stories come in. If you’re feeling a little uninspired, take a look at these three highly inspirational runners.
You know that running gives you an excellent physical workout, but going for a long run can also help you recover from traumatic events. Michele King Gonzalez, whose marathon PR is 3:21, didn’t start running seriously until she was a student at West Point.
However, she refers to her multiple deployments to Iraq as the most difficult times of her life, and she continued running seriously upon her return.
Now, she runs a popular blog called NYC Running Mama, where she talks about everything from training protocols to finding the best shoes to maintain foot health. She has also begun competing in Ironman triathlons.
For Gonzalez, running has been a constant that has gotten her through extremely difficult times, and she has used her athleticism in this sport to cross over into the challenging world of triathlons as well.
Gonzalez’s blog may also serve as an inspiration to women who are looking to continue running through pregnancy. Gonzalez writes that she continued to run through her entire pregnancy, up until the day her son was born.
She offers a training log detailing her mileage and the challenges that mothers can expect to face if they run while pregnant. Of course, every pregnancy is different, but her blog may be helpful for women who are hoping to be able to run even during pregnancy.
A marathon is grueling even for able-bodied runners. Double amputee Michael LaForgia has run marathons both as an able-bodied person and as an individual with prosthetic legs. After contracting meningococcal meningitis and losing parts of both legs, he continued to run marathons and even started competing in Olympic-distance triathlons.
For LaForgia and other amputees, returning to running or another sport after amputation isn’t something that happens overnight. An amputation alters gait mechanics, which generally means that an amputee will need physical therapy and time to adjust to prosthetics.
But newer advances in prosthetic devices mean that more amputees are able to be extremely competitive. Olympian Oscar Pistorius, who beat able-bodied competitors while using prosthetics, is a high-profile example.
Although returning to competition after amputation is also a personal victory, LaForgia explains that he wants to be a positive example for disabled competitors. He says, “I want to show that there is no normal, and anyone, regardless of physical capabilities, can achieve greatness.”
His continued ability to run and compete is especially inspirational, seeing as doctors told him he would not be able to run again after amputating his legs.
As many people get older, they start to believe that it’s too late for them to achieve greatness in sports or other fields. This was not the case for Tina Husted, a former Ohio University track star who set aside her running career after having a family.
Then, in middle age, a friend challenged her to compete in a race, and she started training again. A few years later, she was running multiple marathons in under three hours. Now in her forties, she is one of the top master’s competitors in the state of Ohio.
Though she trains rigorously, Husted has noted that her body paid the price for doing multiple marathons close together. It is important to be mindful of your body and take steps to prevent injuries, especially as you age.
A little extra care today, including wearing proper cushioning footwear and taking enough rest days, may be instrumental in helping you continue to run well into old age. Now, Husted has achieved a training balance that allows her to preserve her health while continuing to be highly competitive.
Husted balances family life with a career and hobbies, and she explains that sometimes, her fast-paced life means that she needs to get up earlier than normal to go on a run. However, she says that it’s important to just do that and get your run out of the way.
For those who struggle to wake up early to run, it may be helpful to realize that running in the morning has some unique benefits, including boosting your daily productivity and problem-solving abilities. It also means you’ll be breathing less polluted air and be subjected to fewer nuisances.
Not all runners face the same setbacks, but many have been tempted to give up at some point. When you’re feeling this way, seeing how others in this sport have tackled their setbacks may be able to help you overcome the issues you’re facing.
Whether it’s a severe illness, an injury, a mental health issue, or some other roadblock, taking some inspiration from the above three people just might help you summon the courage to keep striving in the sport you enjoy.