Choosing Life | Running the Race of Recovery

It was raining hard. Drops hitting her face, muscles aching, Marianne thought to herself, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to keep running.” She stopped, her tears mixing with the rain.

The commitment to run and to persevere at something goes much deeper than training for a 13-mile race, these women are in the fight of their lives.

Two wet figures came to Marianne’s side, putting an arm around her. Her running coaches, Janet and Arianne, prayed for the presence of Jesus to help her continue. “You got this,” they said.

Talk to any of women in the running group at Shepherd’s Door, and the will tell you how valuable running is to their recovery journey.

Running is healing them, and the companionship they have found keeps them going when they want to give up…on running, on relationships, on recovery.

To run for them means choosing life.

“Addictions recovery isn’t just about simply getting clean and getting a job,” said Arianne, one of the coaches. “It’s building new habits and routines where others were taken out.” Formerly destructive habits of addiction have been replaced with a healthy drive to run and keep running.

Despite the rain in her face and the fatigue in her muscles, Marianne kept on running, running through the the grey rain, running despite the voice in her head saying she should stop, running alongside the women that wouldn’t let her give up.

“My mood, my attitude completely changed around,” said Marianne. The sun pushed through the clouds as the team returned from their run.

“When we experience struggles, triumphs, rain, wind, blood, sweat and tears–sometimes literally–it really bonds you together,” said Arianne.

For these women, running is dispelling depression in their lives, teaching them about vulnerability and helping them see that they can win at life.

“We all have on our old running clothes, no make-up, and messy hair. We come together and show up as our REAL selves,” says coach Heather.

“The first fifteen minutes are always the hardest. Anybody in the running team can say that. Every single one of us whines and complains for the first fifteen minutes, and then we’re like, ‘Okay we got this,’” shared Brittany, one of the runners.

“[Running] releases all of my anxiety. If I didn’t have something physical to do, I don’t think I could make through the program,” she said.

“I feel God work miracles in the miles we travel together. On day one they showed up in sweatshirts and jeans, persevered in the dark, rain filled mornings, didn’t give up when the hills were long and daunting. They said yes to the ice, snow and my crazy 5 am morning calls to run it out in 19 degree temps. Along the way we were able to laugh, cry, pray and sing our way to the finish line! I’m so proud of them,” said Heather.

“I feel accomplished,” said Colleen, one of the women. “I could have given up when I did a half-marathon. That’s what its been like my whole life– giving up. This time, I’m not.”

“I’m running for the Lord. I’m running for the one who’s saving me,” she said.

“Giving up is not an option.”

“Shepherd’s Door has given me life. They cared about me more than I cared about myself when I got here,” said Alana, also on the team.

“I have a choice to live or die, and I choose life.”