“It’s about taking risks, and trying new things, while knowing that you are never alone.”
Running has always been a part of Audrey’s life in some way, shape, or form. Though the now crew-captain of the Boston chapter of the Midnight Runners didn’t start strictly as a runner, running was incorporated into her life through the many sports she grew up playing. Audrey did more than her fair share of running playing basketball and field hockey, as well as some small bits here and there competing in the jumping events in track and field.
It wasn’t until college that she started running regularly as a way to stay fit, de-stress, and explore Boston.
Unfortunately, running didn’t start out as a completely positive part of Audrey’s life. At the age of 19, just when she was starting college, Audrey was diagnosed with an eating disorder. Over-exercising was one of her biggest challenges, and her relationship with running turned from a healthy habit into destructive relationship with physical activity and her body. This constant push to run more and more without proper fueling and nutrition caused her to sustain an injury to her IT band, which forced her to have to stop completely.
“This was my biggest set-back to running (and to my life!). In addition to running, I missed out on many social opportunities because I was too sick to connect with people or do things that I really enjoyed. As a result, I isolated myself from other people and avoided trying new things because I was too scared of being rejected or failing.”
Audrey finally reached a point where she decided she was tired of fighting with her body and her mind, and took the brave step to start a treatment program. After several programs and 4 years of mind and body healing, Audrey was finally ready to run again.
At the beginning, she was only allowed to run for 10 minutes, once a week, in order to slowly reintroduce exercise into her life. She recalls that first run, feeling a different kind of strength in her body that she had never experienced before.
“Instead of running and overworking my body to lose weight, I began running again to feel stronger. Running became the way that I was able to rebuild the positive connection that I once had with my body. I began to see my body as fighting WITH me, not AGAINST me, and I developed a new appreciation for my body and all that I can accomplish.”
After a year of running on her own, Audrey was looking for ways to rebuild her social circle after feeling so isolated for such a long time. She decided that the best way was to find people who were like minded and enjoyed the sport that she loved so much, and started searching for running groups. She came across the Boston chapter of the Midnight Runners on Facebook and thought that it seemed a fun group to join that didn’t take running too seriously.
“I was really nervous about not being able to keep up with the group and not being able to run the full 6 miles. 19 year old me would have quit before I even started, but 24 year old me decided to give it a try, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Her first experience with the Midnight Runners blew her away! Audrey was amazed by the positivity, energy, support, and strength showed by all the runners and crew captains. Even being one of the slower runners in the group, she felt motivated, cared about, and genuinely was having fun. Thanks to that support, she made it through the full 6 miles (10km) and every exercise stop. After that night, she knew she wanted more.
“I messaged Greg after the run saying that I was HOOKED and would love to help out in any way that I could. He gave me a speaker the next week and I became a captain shortly after that.”
Being a part of the Boston crew has pushed Audrey, a naturally shy person, to come out of her shell. After a few months she ran her first exercise stop, which required to call out instructions to a large group of people. In the past, this would have felt so unnatural, but the Midnight Runner community made her feel entirely okay with it.
“For me, my experience with MR has really been about taking risks and challenges both physically and mentally. It’s given me a voice that I didn’t know that I always had.”
Being a crew captain for the Boston Midnight Runners helped her build up the courage to talk and sing in a show in May of 2018 about her experience recovering from an eating disorder and to help end the stigma around mental illness.
“For so long, I limited myself because my anxious mind was screaming to me that I could never be “good enough”, or “worthy enough” of other people. Being a part of Midnight Runners has shifted my perspective on what I am capable of and what I deserve. By challenging myself and letting others in to my life, I’ve allowed for the possibility of achieving more and being more than my anxious brain would ever allow.”
Since joining Midnight Runners, she has run her first half marathon with plans to do another one this spring. With her Midnight Runner family, Audrey knows that anything is possible.
“MR is a kick-ass running group, don’t get me wrong…but it’s also SO much more than that. It’s about challenging yourself beyond your comfort zone. It’s about positive energy, and constant social support. It’s about taking risks, and trying new things, while knowing that you are never alone. Midnight Runners is a community of people that will always have your back.”
Not a day goes by where Audrey doesn’t feel grateful for having joined such a fun, supportive group of runners. Her advice? If you live in a city with a chapter and haven’t joined, go do it now! It will be the best decision you will make this year.