Fostering Strength

One of the things I love about running is being alone in my head. But, as much as I love that aspect of running, I have a group that I run with on Wednesdays. I had never even considered running with a group because I enjoy running alone so much. It took a very special group for me to join the ranks of runners who have a running club or group.

Running groups are an excellent way to stay motivated and committed to running. When you have to be accountable to others for showing up to run it is a little harder to say, “I’ll do it later” They can help you keep pace whether you’re doing an easy run or speed training. They can provide reassurance when you’re having a bad run because everyone has an off day.

I have one of the most inspirational running groups I can imagine. I run with teens who are placed in a foster home (taken out of their parent’s custody and care and placed with strangers) because their parents have made harmful decisions. These teens are an amazing group of kids. Trying to determine who you are, who you want to be, and finding your place in the world is hard. It is a challenge to any emotionally driven teen to then lose the support, identity, and structure of home, no matter how dysfunctional home was, can be an unsurmountable blow.

But these kids stand tall and strong letting the world know they have not been defeated. They won’t be held back by the poor decisions of others. They fight to the front of the line and many, more fortunate kids, are left in their dust. Not only in races, but in education and community involvement.

There is a certain point in nearly every race, particularly in the marathon and longer distances, where your body says NO MORE! This is known as the wall. When you hit the wall, you have to dig deep inside of yourself and find a reason to keep pushing. Each one of these kids is a reason for me to push on and finish strong. Because, that’s exactly what they do every day, when they get up in the morning to face the world and to face their own demons. Even though the odds are stacked against them, they push on.

I hope your running group inspires you as much as mine does me and if not, find some foster teens to run with. Their courage and strength are contagious.

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