Can running save you from places you never thought you would be? One place that most of us never imagine we will end up is homeless. However, some people do make poor choices and end up without a place to live. How can we help and make them functional members of society again? I don’t think there is one specific answer, but I have recently read a an article about how running has been able to help these people.
The article, “Running from Trouble,” in Runner’s World this month tells the story of how one person started an organization to help homeless people in Philadelphia get back on their feet (the organization is actually called Back on my Feet). It all started with a runner, waving at homeless people and thinking, “Why do I get to be the runner, and they have to be the homeless guys? Why can’t we all just be runners?” This is true. Running is the greatest equalizer. You can’t fake a run. You either run the distance or not. You either do it quickly or slowly, it’s up to you. It’s an equal playing field for every runner, the course is the same, shoes are not too different, and every runner has two legs. So why can’t running bring otherwise separated segments of the population together? It can. Since every runner is given somewhat equal opportunities in running, it breaks down the barriers between the haves and the have nots. Running brings all types of people together. Back on my Feet is showing this by running setting up running programs with the homeless and competing in half marathons. None are now training for the Olympics, but it gives the runners a sense of hope. Running in a crowd of thousands of people, running the same 13.1 miles and shows these homeless runners that they are not different than anyone else. Also, there are the metaphors of running that help motivate. Running, just like getting back on your feet no matter how far down you are, takes one simple step and then another after another to reach you goal. I wonder, what are some of the other groups that may be helped by running? Does anyone know of others using running to change people’s lives?