More Than a Sport: How running changes lives and gives hope to Ugandan orphans

I truly believe that running is much more powerful than merely a sport or, dare I even say, a hobby. It holds the power to transform lives, instill lessons for nearly all other areas of life, it connects people, and is my first choice of feel good drugs. (The Hungry Runner Girl just did an excellent post today about endorphins and running.)
happy rainbow
Running has impacted my own life quite a bit, it’s taken me places, it’s introduced me to people, it’s to the point where I know if I weren’t a runner I’d be a completely different person.

* Running instilled in me a new kind of work ethic and dedication. True, I’m a Type A kind of person and tend to me rather self-motivated but I know that running helped me take that drive and really apply it. Running will test you with so many bumps and bruises along the way that if you can outlast those other things comparatively seem easier.

* Running showed me there can be fun in the trials. Anything worth working for is going to make you, well, work for it. But with running, even the most excruciating of workouts are oddly ‘fun’ whether it’s because of your training partners or the twisted kind of satisfaction of feeling the rush of kicking your own butt.

* Running gave me hope and light. After my car accident I faced the possibility of a completely different life, one that potentially was without even walking. In my bones I knew I was a runner and that it was WORTH working and doing anything I could to get back to it again. If the doctors didn’t think it was possible, that’s okay, I did.

* Running’s a common ground. I feel connected to people the second I find out they are runners…it’s an insta-friend in the same community.
mad runner
I’m a nasty beast without my dose of endorphins from running, and if I’m injured then I at least have to do some kind of cross-training. Even on those days where I don’t feel like it, I force those first few minutes and keep going. Sometimes it’s only the first mile that stinks, sometimes the whole run isn’t exactly a glowing walk on sunshine, but when I’m done I always feel better.

Another story that proves running is much more than a sport. I met Julius Achon back in 2004 when we were both runners in the Nike Oregon Project. Julius is hilarious in so many ways but if you knew his past you’d be further amazed by his genial manner and quick smile. He escaped tumultuous Uganda to run on a college scholarship here in the US. He went on to win multiple NCAA titles and set records at George Mason University and then to run professionally.

Had he not been a runner he would have been killed, that is a fact. He was captured by the Rebels in Uganda and was only released because they found out he was a fast runner and may bring pride to his country. He and Eloise Wellings (another dear friend and one of the selfless individuals I know; she is a professional and World Class distance runner from Australia) have set up the Love Mercy Foundation to improve the lives of those still living in Uganda.

Please read their story and help out if you can, it is truly inspiring. (There is also a Facebook page you can ‘like’.) Running to them, and those countless individuals in Uganda, is much more than a sport it is a lifeline and ray of hope.

I am a runner and know what it means to me, what does running mean to you?

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6 thoughts on “More Than a Sport: How running changes lives and gives hope to Ugandan orphans

  1. LOVE this story! wow thank you so much for sharing, it definitely puts everything into perspective!!
    I agree with you 100% on EVERY point!! 🙂
    Running keeps me sane & happy, it helps me to be better at all aspects of my life because it reduces my anxiety and ‘always need to move’ tendencies! 🙂
    I hope you’ve been having a great week!

  2. this was such a happy and beautiful post 🙂 I love all that running inspires. For me it’s the mind-body connection I get out of it. Almost all of my runs feel like I’ve reached some kind of spiritual epiphany, and I like that 😉

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