By Amber Hadigan

I woke up one morning in December to a message on my Facebook page. It was from a longtime friend who contacts me rarely, but follows me regularly online. Her message said, “Amber, you have inspired me. I asked [my daughter] tonight if she would run a 5K with me. We are looking at Disney Princess weekend, Feb 21. I recall that you mentioned a training schedule as you prepared for your first race. Where did you find that? I’m a little scared here, now that I have said this out loud.” Of course, I pointed her to the training plan I used and encouraged her to investigate “Couch to 5K” plans online. I was happy that she was taking a step towards a healthy lifestyle and spending time with her adult daughter, who is already a runner.

I decided to run for me. I decided to run to lose weight, to get in shape, and to feel better about myself. And for free t-shirts. So far I have lost 15 pounds, my clothes fit better, and I no longer get winded going up a flight of stairs. Plus I feel proud that I am accomplishing something that may people find difficult. But now I feel proud that my running and posting about it online inspired another to start running.

We tend to forget how our actions have repercussions and influence others. Children of smokers tend to be more likely to smoke. Children of active parents tend to be more active. We tend to become more like the people we spend the most time with. When I started dating someone who was overweight, I found it easier to become inactive and to eat without thinking.  But now that I have started becoming more active, my husband is starting to also. He is taking up swimming, a healthy activity he really enjoys. Next year he wants to swim across the Hudson River.

But even those who aren’t with us everyday can be affected by our actions. My friend who wrote to me on Facebook has only seen me twice in the last 7 years. But since I regularly post my running accomplishments on my timeline, she has been paying attention and let’s me know that she is proud and inspired. I have almost 300 friends on Facebook, so I have to wonder how many more are following me and are being inspired. I started running again after 20 years when I was inspired by a friend in New York City that posts about her training for the NYC Marathon every year.

Our acts have consequences that vibrate through the universe. When we talk about running, or we run a race, we do not think about it, but people notice. People look at us, running down the street and think “Maybe I can do this, too.”

So run for your own reasons. Take pride in your accomplishments. Smile when you cross the finish line of your next race. But remember, in the back of your mind, that people are watching. And take pride in the fact that you may be encouraging someone to live just a little happier and to find a place in the running community.

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Amber Hadigan currently lives in Hyde Park, NY with her husband John and her two cats, Sobe and Scrappy. Originally from Wisconsin, she has lived in many different states. Now settled, she spends her time working, freelance writing, and writing and performing folk music. A runner as a child, she began running again in May 2013 and has rediscovered the peace and joy running gives her.



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