Blog Post – “Way to go, keep it up”

Linda Leathers

I committed to myself at last year’s Heroes in Recovery 6K in Leiper’s Fork that I would run the 2017 race. The annual race on Saturday, September 9th is an inspiring and beautiful event that brings together individuals living in recovery – moms, dads, siblings, cousins, friends, and sponsors, to celebrate the recovery journey, gain hope for love ones currently struggling and others honoring the memory for their love ones who did not survive the disease of addiction.

When I made that commitment, the 6k could have very well been a marathon. The truth is I let a decade pass without an emphasis in my personal health. I realized early in 2017 that my diet and weight were out of control and gratefully made significant strides to get both in a reasonable range. My endurance was still embarrassingly low. In early June, the whispers of running the Heroes in Recovery race commitment began to sound like drums in my head. I could not block or ignore it any longer. I had to get my lazy butt off the couch, significantly reduce my daily after work HGTV watching, and hit the streets. This race challenge was going to take more than a 30-minute FIXER UPPER show.

Admittedly, it ain’t pretty.  I can laugh about it, but I am that woman striving to walk/run who you drive by and wonder it you should STOP and CALL 911. Some runners glide. I need you to visualize the opposite of glide running and then you will receive a glimpse of my style. Some runners look like they enjoy it. Not me, not yet. I walk/run alone because I have not figured out how to talk without hyperventilating. My running pace is slow and looks like a baby step maneuver. As I started, I strived to survive mailbox to mailbox, walk a long while and attempt another mailbox to mailbox goal. I have now gratefully promoted most of the time from mailbox to mailbox to block to block. Please know that at this point I still have a LONG way to go until I am able to run 3.6 miles, but I am making progress. I can feel it!

It was one of my earliest attempts after work to walk/run on a HOT June evening. I was near finishing up and almost in site of the house. After the great majority of the experience being walking, I convinced my feet, legs, heart and mind to try running to the next mailbox. I was a mixture of exhausted, hot and thirsty. In all my loveliness, sweat pouring everywhere, I looked up to see this beautiful 20 something, most likely, college student approaching me running in glide form. This beautiful young lady was the same one that had politely lapped me earlier. As she approached she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Way to go, keep it up.” She did not have to make eye contact or say a word, but she did.

My soul soared. I ran with all strength to not one, two, three, but six mailboxes to my home. Oh the difference an encouraging voice provided to my experience. I thought about this sweet aroma of encouragement hundreds of time since.

I want to be the ENCOURAGER. The Heroes in Recovery Race and each moment of every day I have the privilege of saying, “Way to go, keep it up.” This little phrase at the right time may be just the words that someone needs to take the step toward his or her next personal challenge or mailbox.

I have six more weeks to gain the strength to run the Heroes in Recovery. It’s really not about running or walking the 6k race. It is about encouraging men and women to take the next step in their recovery. It is about encouraging the mom, dad or spouse that has a loved one struggling with the heartbreaking disease of addiction. It is celebrating the memory of beautiful friends and loved ones that have passed as result of overdose. It is also a plead to someone currently lost in his or her addiction to take the next step and reach out for help. I see it every day in my work. Courageous women saying YES to help and treatment. I have the privilege to say, “Way to go, keep it up!”  We all can!

I would love to have you join me in running this year. For more information and to register, please click here.

Linda Leathers serves as the CEO of The Next Door.

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