Why I Run: From Deep Depression and Suicide Attempts to a 50-Race, Cross-Country Campaign

The Therapeutic Power of Running

From that point, I immediately began therapy to unravel the years of pain. My therapist suggested finding something small to give my life some happiness. "Find something that makes you happy, and run with it." I apparently took that challenge too far and re-embraced running as a part of my life. (I used to love running but had stopped when my depression peaked.)

My love for running officially began again when a coworker asked me to join a group that was training after work for a half marathon. I thought maybe that would be something I could learn to enjoy again.

It wasn't long before they convinced me to run the half marathon with them—after only 3 weeks of training. The race itself was the definition of a disaster. I rolled my ankle about one-third of the way in. I got stuck in the longest prayer in the history of prayers. (That's a story for another day.) I even forgot to use the bathroom before the race, and after drinking tons of water, that proved to be a big mistake. However, after a difficult journey to the finish line, I made it. That very moment... I felt joy and pride in myself again.

Two weeks later, I was running another half marathon. I even shaved about 30 minutes off my previous time. (That's not that big of an accomplishment if you knew how bad my first time was.) Another race followed and then another. Until finally, my friends stopped asking what my weekend plans were and simply asked where I would be running that coming weekend.

On the trails, it was like nothing bad going on around me mattered. I simply was at peace, running in nature. I even decided to take my runs to the next level to start listening to audiobooks on my runs verses music. Believe it or not, it actually helped my finish times.

#50FORLIFE Campaign

Nothing could ever convince me to go back to those dark days. However, I would not trade them, either. By opening up about my depression, I've witnessed so many others who were struggling open up about their own journeys. It's sad because, with so many stigmas surrounding depression, they have always been afraid to speak up. I've since started replying, "If we don't open up...who will? If we don't take care of each other...who will?"
After seeing the power I have in sharing my story, I knew I had to do everything I could to share it with as many people as I could. So in 2019, I'm traveling across the country to run 50 different races and tell my story. It will be tiresome, stressful and costly, but I believe the importance of sharing surpasses all of those cons.

I hope you will follow along on my journey this year and learn about ways you can help support the mission. You can find me on:

READ THIS NEXT: Why I Run: An Essay from a Marathon Maniac, Ultramarathoner and 50 States Club Member 

About Nathan W

Nathan is a 25-year-old runner from Knoxville, Tennessee. He's completed three marathons and countless half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. He primarily runs road races but prefers a good challenging trail race. He returned to running in 2017 after a serious battle with depression. Running gave him his life back, and he loves sharing his story. In 2019, he is embarking on a 50 Race Challenge, during which he will run 50 races over the entire year. He is so excited to have this opportunity to share his adventures across the United States. When he's not running, he's either cooking, listening to music/playing piano, traveling or idolizing Dolly Parton. ("Isn't she a gem?" he says.) He also spends time chasing around his two dogs: a Dalmatian named Pongo and a German Shepherd named Jafar.

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