My Love of Running

While there are many obstacles mothers face when accessing care, distance alone presents one of the greatest barriers. In many parts of the world, women have to walk an average of 8 miles to reach the nearest public health facility — even while pregnant or in labor. Every Mother Counts runs so mothers can reach the care they need.

At Every Mother Counts, we run to improve access to maternity health care for every mother, everywhere. On Wednesday, June 6th, we are asking our community to join us in celebration of Global Running Day. You can run from anywhere, at any time of day. In honor of Global Running Day, Kara Goucher, Olympic long distance runner, World Champion and a mom, that we admire, writes about her love of running.

The Love of Running

By Kara Goucher

The first time that I ran I was 6 years old. Of course I had run before, around the soccer field, on the playground, but this was the first time that I lined up with the intention of just running. My grandpa, a lifelong runner, lined up along side me. It was a mile run and he was going to do it with me. As the starter yelled, “GO!” I got tripped and fell. I scrapped my knee pretty bad. My grandpa thought that I’d start to cry and not want to run, but instead I jumped up and started chasing everyone ahead. It was exhilarating, my love of running was born.

I loved running right away. Coming from a very athletic family, I hadn’t really found a sport where I could excel. Running came naturally to me. I didn’t have to think about the angle of the tennis racket in my hand, the placement of the soccer ball on my shoe, or where my cross country ski polls were planted. I just ran. I loved to race. I started racing regularly when I was 12 and loved pushing myself to the max. I loved running so hard that I thought my lungs might explode or that I might choke on my breath. I loved hurting and pushing hard. It was a part of me I didn’t know I existed, and I embraced it.

I was good at running. And there were years and times when I ran to win. I liked to set big goals and go after them and I liked success. But there were times, even back in high school, where racing didn’t go well. And in those times I loved running because of the friends it had brought me, who surrounded me and supported me through difficult times. Running got me through my mom’s divorce. It was there for me when as a grown adult, I was suddenly crippled with grief of the death of my father 20 years earlier. Running was my savior when I was going through fertility treatment. Every time I heard, “I wish I had better news,” I’d head out and run with tears streaming down my face. Running helped me heal with the devastation I felt after narrowly missing my 3rd Olympic Team. Running has always been there for me. It has been an escape and a safe place to go.

My love of running has shifted over the years, but the passion is always there. While at times it was focused on winning and running fast, at other times it was all about friendships and camaraderie. I could never thank running enough for the relationships it has brought me, or the strength it has given me in difficult times. I’ve slowed down as I’ve gotten older. I still love to race, but now I take pride in encouraging the next generation. I want other women to accomplish what I wasn’t able to. And I want to bring more people, especially women, into running. The community is like no other, and it is amazing to be a part of.

My grandpa can’t run anymore. He is 93 and unsteady on his feet. A few years ago we talked about how he missed running. We talked about how much running has made us better people. How it calmed our minds and helped us deal with stress. How when we are out on the open road, we can find peace in just hearing our breath. Aside from my family, running has been the greatest gift in my life. It has taken me all over the world and helped me discover who I am and what I care about. All of this because my grandpa took me to run a mile when I was six. You never who how running might change someone’s life. Don’t forget to share your love with others.

Join Kara Goucher and Every Mother Counts on Wednesday, June 6th for Global Running Day by running for better care for mothers around the world.

Topics: Maternal Health