READER REPORT:

Running a 'soul saver'

SAMANTHA PEARSON
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
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From couch potato to running bean

Confessions of a running junkie I'm learning to run Overtaking everyone on the couch From binge drinker to Ironwoman Pushing my body forward The reluctant runner After a decade off, I just do it Finding my stride and myself Addicted to running Running's the best 'drug' on the market

With beams of light peeking through the stirring trees, I smile. The breeze allows my thoughts to drift. I am strong. I am free. I am a runner.

Running was not always so straightforward for me. It blindsided me at school. Physical education was compulsory, including the cross-country.

Struggling to keep up with my classmates by the most embarrassing of distances in athletics, I'd surrender in defeat. But not before the dreaded stitch would bite at my sides.

Running was simply too hard.

Fast-forward a few years. Depression caught me up in its web of bitterness and hatred. I was withdrawn, suicidal and tired. I was at a loss for how to remedy this in the long term.

Counselling help was temporary. The impulsiveness of casual sex, parties and skipping school added pinpricks of thrill into my otherwise listless state of reality.

A concerned friend and competitive runner took me under her wing. She challenged me to head out for a run - only 20 minutes ...

It was a drizzly day. I felt great for the first few minutes until stitch taunted me along with an entourage of negative thoughts. Eventually I gave in and stopped to walk, dreaming of heading home.

The sight of my friend whizzing onwards pulled me out of my sorry state. Feeling accomplished for battling through, I vowed to try again.

Running and I have had a love-hate relationship over the years.

Depression wanted me back, tempting me with self-destructiveness when things in life upset the balance. Running took a backburner.

It wasn't until I became a mother about two years ago that running extended a helping hand. Feelings of enthusiasm stirred in me. Joining a gym (the place I now work at), I completed a short, slow run on the treadmill.

Despite not going anywhere I felt strong, confident and pleasantly challenged. The buzz was far better than any from cigarettes, junk food and drugs.

The best thing of all, it was free.

These two years have really cemented my passion for running. Consistency and improved fitness gave birth to self-confidence and pride. Having never seen myself as worthy, this was a revelation.

I decided to enter a half-marathon to test my strength and determination. I wanted so badly to set a significant goal and to stick at it. No excuses.

Battling through on-and-off illness during training, I was tempted to toss out the running shoes and crawl into a hole.

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Past thoughts haunted me, but my stronger self hit back, strapped on its armband and blasted out those thoughts like kryptonite.

I finished the half-marathon in 1 hour 49 minutes, bettering the two hours target I had set.

Completing the half-marathon has really proved that I am more capable than I give myself credit for. I am much more empowered and satisfied than I have ever been.

Running allows me to test my boundaries. It's a life journey.

Together we are constantly evolving, standing the tests of time and balance. Running is my wingman when I am low.

It pulls me up from the brink of despair and enfolds me in focus and light.

Running has saved my soul. 


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