Running for health and healing the soul

  • This was printed in January of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 34th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

When I asked dozens of runners why they run, I expected to receive generic answers such

as, “it keeps me healthy,” and “it clears my mind.”

Then I read an email that brought me to tears.

Christina Saldivar, a 35-year-old single mom of three from Fresno, has several reasons to

run. Each one of those reasons is relatable and admirable.

I’ll let her explain in her own words:

“I run because I wanted to live my life more like my nephew who was tragically taken

from our family. He was spontaneous and full of life. He passed away June 12, 2012.

“I randomly joined the Wascally (Wabbit Half Mawothon page) on Facebook and had my

first run on June 15, 2013 — and never looked back.

01-09-14-Christina before

“Running has helped to heal my soul and to mend my broken heart. I want to make him

proud even though he is no longer here. I feel him with me when I run sometimes and

think of him often when running.”

Just wait, it gets even deeper. When Christina joined the Wascally training program, she

was overweight and “thought (she) was going to pass out” after running 2.83 miles on her

first day.

“I run because I no longer wanted to feel sorry for myself and I want to be healthy to play

with my kids,” she wrote. “There would be times when my children would want to go do

things but I couldn’t because I was tired from being so fat and unhealthy. Now, I am the

one telling them ‘let’s go do something.’”

As a mother of two little ones, I know how important it is to be able to keep up with

energetic kids. I’m so proud of Christina for making that change and setting such an

amazing example for her children.

It hurts my heart to read, “I was tired from being so fat.” But her next statement truly

saddened my soul:

“I run because I was promoted this year and I doubted anyone would respect me if I were

big,” she wrote.

Whether her suspicions about the lack of respect were true or not, it doesn’t matter

anymore. Christina has definitely earned the respect of everyone who runs with her. Her

journey has been inspirational, and it’s only just begun.

01-09-14-Christina at Wascally

Within three months Christina trained for her first half marathon. She ran 13.1 miles in 3

hours and 25 minutes. Two months later she ran her second half marathon, the Two Cities

Clovis Half.

01-09-14-Christina finish

I’ve seen her lose weight and gain confidence. I’ve seen her cry during a run and smile

afterward. I’ve seen her begin to walk during training, but then pick it back up to a run

with a look of determination on her face after hearing a few encouraging words.

I’ve never seen Christina give up.

“I am far from the best runner, but running doesn’t tell me that I am not good enough,”

she wrote. “I know I can only get better.”

And she can only get healthier. I couldn’t help but smile when she posted a gorgeous

photo of herself in a new dress on Facebook last month.

“It was such a nice feeling to go shopping and put stuff back because it was too big,” she

wrote in her post. “I am still a work in progress and do not want to go back to being as

unhealthy as I was.”

You never will, Christina. You’re a runner now.

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