RED Hearts: Running Towards Love

TCS-MarathonRED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today.

Today's RED Hearts is by Cindy Morand, 25, from NYC. While others run for fitness, she talks about running for love.

The New York City Marathon is this weekend. It’s always one of my favorite Sundays in the city -- glorious autumn and everyone cheering each other on. And it always makes me think about how many of those runners are running for a cause, for someone they love.Finishing 26.2 miles strong has become a powerful force in fundraising, for the tens of thousands of runners and thehundreds of charities connected with the race. Think $1 million a mile, times 26.2, and the chance to commit to fitness and fundraising goals with the help of friends, family and your community.

Watching from the sidelines, or as runners share their personal stories, you can’t help but be inspired.  I spoke to a colleague who chose to run for a leukemia charity because his father had died from the illness. He told me how much this provided him a sense of closeness with his dad, as well as an opportunity to help raise funds for the cure. He inspired me to try running in honor of my father, who I’d lost to Alzheimer’s. So, last year, I signed up for my first race, the Staten Island Half (a half-marathon seemed like a better place for me to start than the full 26.2 miles). During the three-month training program, particularly in the early days, I felt that giving up was an option.

As my training continued and my fitness improved though, I started to think of my father in every hard mile. I successfully completed that half-marathon in his honor. At the finish line I cried, because I could not believe how strong I was and because I felt closer to my father than ever. Soon after, I signed up for the NYC Half and made a goal to one day -- maybe even next year -- to run the full marathon with the Alzheimer’s team.

Whatever kind of mileage you’re after, whether your running journey begins with a 5K or a half-marathon, a formal race or even just a race-you-to-the-corner, attaching that goal to a cause you care deeply about helps.

Running can be difficult at first, but when you run with a purpose your endurance will increase. Promise. I also promise that whatever kind of cause is close to your heart, there’s a charity to match, whether your passion is women’s rights or the fight against a specific illness, the environment, animal rights, education, you name it.  A couple of favorite organizations that focus on helping girls and have running are The Lower Eastside Girls Club and Girls On the Run.

Running truly changed my life. After I ran in the name of my father I felt a sense of healing and inspiration to always make him proud. In every mile I thought of him -- and, I’m sure, with every mile ahead of me.

RED Hearts guest poster Cindy Morand is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.