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The healing power of running: How it helped me cope with grief

A man in RYU Clothing wearing a Garmin Running watch running

In my childhood, a running accident cost me an eye. A stray rock, thrown by another child, struck me, leading to numerous surgeries and leaving me with little to no vision in my right eye. This loss was profound, a grief that was both physical and emotional. I mourned not just the loss of sight, but the loss of normalcy.

As I navigated through high school and college, I was the ‘kid with one eye.’ I yearned to fit in, to be normal, but my identity seemed inextricably tied to my physical difference. The grief was a constant companion, a reminder of what I had lost and what I could never regain.

Then, I discovered running. My doctors assured me it was a safe sport for me, non-contact and posing no further risk to my eyes. As my feet pounded the pavement, I began to find an identity separate from my visual impairment. I felt the same struggles as the runners around me, the same exhaustion, the same exhilaration. I was no longer just ‘the kid with one eye.’ I was a runner.

Running became my refuge, my therapy. It helped me grapple with the grief and the suicidal thoughts born from feelings of inadequacy. It taught me that I was enough, just as I was. Running gave me a sense of purpose, a sense of self.

My eyes may never resemble those of others, but running helped me accept that. It helped me realize that ‘normal’ is relative, and I had found my own normal in the rhythm of my strides and the steady beat of my heart.

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