Running as Part of Recovery
By Heather and Aeriell
Heather is finishing Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall. The Hunger Run was her first attempt at running and led to some BIG changes for her, including completing her first half-marathon. Aeriell works for Union Gospel Mission as an administrative assistant for Men’s Recovery, as well as donations processing. They’ve run a lot of miles together. Both said the experience of running together has been life-changing.
I honestly do not believe I was ever truly 100% in recovery until I began the training for the Hunger Run and the Spokane half-marathon. Not only did the training impact my physical health, but also my mental health. It showed me that I can when I always believed that I couldn’t. It gave me confidence in who I am and how I am truly capable of doing anything (with the Lord by my side).
It taught me discipline; waking up at the crack of dawn daily to do something I truly did not like but knew I should. It taught me accountability, knowing there were other girls who were watching me and doing the hard work alongside me. It taught me teamwork; we may not have gone at the same pace, but we always finished together, cheering each other to the end.
Our coach, Kelly, showed me what a quiet and gentle spirit looks like in a man of God, and his faithfulness and confidence in me always pushed me to take another step forward. Running the half- marathon has changed me forever, and now I know absolutely nothing can stop me from pressing onward.
At right: Heather receiving the Award of Excellence from Coach Kelly of Up and Running Again.
Aeriell has been running since she was 19, but about three years ago, she started training with the women in recovery at Anna Ogden Hall, which added a whole new dimension to her running experience.
Part of the running experience for me… It’s not so much about the race or the time, it’s more about the quality time I was spending with the residents and watching them grow. So last year, I chose a resident (Heather) and we ran every day together. I just picked one at the beginning, one who was struggling, and by the end… It was emotional because the whole time she felt like she couldn’t do it. So it was just an encouragement for her to finish something.
A lot of the residents felt like they couldn’t do it at first. They didn’t think they could accomplish it because it was too big of a mountain. It was too big of a hill. So each week, Kelly, our coach, would say, “You can do this, it’s just one more mile.” And they didn’t think they could do 5 miles and then they did 6, and they didn’t think they could do 7, and then we went from there. But the confidence built as we were going. The growth that they could do something, that they could finish something and that they could do it well.
We met four times a week at 6 a.m. – beginning in June and going until October – and Heather did not miss a day. She did really well.
And I think that perseverance, that realization that she could do it, overflowed into other areas of her life, as well.
And it changed my perspective, too. In the beginning I was thinking, Oh, it’s running. So I started off about time, like we need to be able to do this as fast as we can. But then it became more relational for me. It was less about how fast you were doing it and more about the time you were taking and sowing into other people. So it didn’t matter if you were first or last. I mean I could’ve outrun people, but what’s the point if you’re not connecting with them? It was more of a heart change I had.
Above photo shows Heather and Aeriell finishing the Spokane Half Marathon together!