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Overcoming Loss and Towards Community

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life is hard. Every day we encounter barriers that make it difficult to focus on the road ahead. But running has the unique power to transform your physical, mental and emotional health and keep you moving forward. Running has the power to change our lives. runner’s world has partnered with Fleet Feet to bring you a powerful story of how running changed your life. Start running at a Fleet Feet store near you and meet runners connecting with their community.

Considering I’ve been running for the last 15 years, the first thing that comes to mind is not one of the many marathons I’ve done. In fact, sitting next to her at her grandmother, scrolling through pictures of the race with her, I can still hear her say: Run baby run “

Even before she died, it became a mantra for me. All you have to do is think, “Run, baby, run.” Then put on your shoes and go.

find a foothold

I played sports all through high school, but didn’t take up running until 2007, when I moved to Dallas for my first job after college as a salesperson for a local newspaper. At that point, I was her 23 and lived about three hours away from where I grew up in Ft. Hood, Texas. Until I found an apartment, I was temporarily staying with his boss and his wife in a spare room. In a city I didn’t know, I had no family or friends. So when his boss suggested that he and his colleagues run one leg in the marathon relay, I thought it would be a good way to get to know people and build community.

I didn’t expect it to be this crazy, but it happened. As soon as I finished the relay, I entered the 2008 half-his marathon and the Dallas-area races before that.

The running store has helped me connect with other runners.

I also started going to my local running shop, which was all new to me. There were no specialty outlets like where I used to live. I used to buy everything at the big box stores. The running store taught me what gear to use for training and racing, how to stay hydrated, and even gave me some run-specific strength training tips. All of this has helped me become a better runner.

The running store has also helped me connect with other runners and participate in group runs. There’s this whole community, and it’s a big part of belonging. In addition, I learned a lot about good strategy for racing.

PJ Thompson

Eventually, I left the area and started my adventure. First I went to Louisiana for a marathon, then places like Denver, Los Angeles, and other parts of Texas. It has become a method.

get through difficult times

I showed my grandmother a picture of the race and we really got to do it together. She was always very supportive and interested. Over the years I could see how old she was and it was tough. She would be thrilled if I brought home one of hers, like a lace t-shirt .

At the same time, I could see that she was losing her mobility and independence. She wasn’t doing what she loved anymore, like gardening or fishing on Sunday mornings. She started attending her dialysis, then she was diagnosed with cancer and her treatment wiped her out. She was exhausted all the time.

Talking about running was a way for us to connect, a way to bond emotionally.

I felt helpless in it. I couldn’t do anything, it’s a hard fact to grasp. I was there for her emotionally, but it was also challenging because my family isn’t the kind of person we talk about how we feel. It was a way to connect, a way to connect emotionally. I think it means a lot to both me and her.

At the same time, my dad lived in Houston and raced there, so I saw him a lot.His parents were separated and although he was always in some sort of contact with his father, he didn’t seem to see him very often. [as a kid]But as I got older, I started rebuilding my relationships, thanks in part to running. I raced on Saturday morning and then spent a lot of time trying to catch up. After that, he also had health problems. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a two-inch brain tumor removed after years of headaches.

Faced with my grandmother’s aging and my father’s health issues, I became more clear about myself and what I wanted to become. It gave people time and space to think about what they needed to do to be their best selves.

pj thompson

PJ Thompson

Now that I am a husband and father myself, I appreciate how family relationships have shaped me and I am grateful for taking the time to process all my emotions, including the loss of my grandmother. There is not a day that I do not miss her, but I am grateful that I was able to spend time with her before she passed away.

support community

After running races fairly consistently, I started my own running group so I didn’t have to be the only one there at 6am. And people did show up, whether they met at the local Fleet Feet store or elsewhere. Then I became a papa bear about safety and scoured routes for potential hazards. I was able to become a coach.

It changed running for me in a good way. It’s been my own sympathy since I started running, but coaching and building this community adds so many more layers. We have a collective energy that supports each other, and we are all supported by it. We also want to make running accessible to everyone who wants to try it. I know what it’s like to be a newcomer, so it’s important to have this welcoming group that everyone can belong to.

For those who join my running group, I am there to help them get the most out of themselves. And of course, it all starts with the first and most important step my grandmother knew.