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I’m writing this post today with a little hesitation. I wasn’t sure if I actually had the right to comment on how the past 12 months have affected my life as I wasn’t one of the hundreds and thousands of directly affected by the events of April 15, 2013. I wasn’t there, nor were any of my relatives and even of the few people I knew running in Boston, none were injured by the explosions that tore through Boylston Street – physically at least.

However, going for my run this morning was a very emotional experience right from the first few steps. Like so many others,  I was dedicating todays miles to Boston, but I spent the entire time just thinking about the senselessness of it all and how it’s changed my own perspective about the running community and about life in general. So what have I learned?

Every run is a gift.

Having nearly died a couple of years ago, I learned that every day is a gift. But knowing how many people who love running as much or more than I do had it ripped away from them or forever changed has made me appreciate not just every day, but every simple and enjoyable part of each day. I don’t think I will ever utter “I HAVE to run X today.” For as long as I’m able to lace up my shoes and get out the door, my attitude will be “I GET to run today” no matter how far, fast or difficult.

The running community is amazing.

I’m not sure what the purpose or goal of attacking the Boston Marathon was and honestly, I am not going to waste my time speculating. What I do know is that more runners were created one year ago today than any other day. And more people changed doing the Boston Marathon from a dream to goal as a result of what happened. We are galvanized. We are growing. And we are united.

Inspiration is never far.

There’s no doubt that seeing all of the photos of Boston survivors in recent weeks and especially all of the positivity they have expressed has been inspiring. Many of them are overcoming psychological scars which are just as haunting and real as the physical scars they bear to not only return to the marathon but compete in it. However, the running community is filled with literally tens of thousands of inspirational people. Go to any race and talk to people. Ask them why they run, how they started or what their goals are. From the person who breaks the tape to the last person across the line – every single of one of them has a unique story. We have all overcome our own challenges, fight our own demons on a daily basis and are capable of inspiring the next future runner.

It’s more than the run that matters.

Running is an individual pursuit that the group celebrates. Every runner has felt that satisfaction that comes with finishing a run, whether a race or just an easy leg stretcher. There is no describing conquering a new distance or setting a PB – but you don’t have to describe it to other runners. We all know. Even better – we all get excited about other people’s accomplishments and love encouraging and supporting each other.

I’ve met a lot of people in the past 12 months, many of them online, who support and inspire me on a daily basis. It has made a huge difference to my own confidence, happiness and overall mental health. If I’m fortunate, I will cross paths with them in real life at some point and get to thank them in person. I only hope that in some small way I also contribute to the community and have maybe even inspired a person or two myself along the way.

Happy running!