By: Carolyn Macduff

Hi! I’m Carolyn Macduff and I’m a 24-year-old graduate student and marathon runner. I also have anxiety that makes my brain a little more cluttered and life just a little harder. Running has become my main savior and best way to quiet my anxious mind. How did I discover that running was the only thing that helped, you ask? Well, I now present my story.

Let’s back up to 2016. At that time, I was getting my undergraduate degree and working for the Housing Department at the University of North Texas. I had been dealing with these negative thoughts that left me scared to be alone, scared to mess up, and scared of life outside of college. I decided to schedule an appointment at the University of North Texas Counseling Center because I already knew I had some form of anxiety and wanted to be able to advocate for my UNT Housing residents who battled with mental illness. I took the generic quiz for anxiety, and was shocked to discover I had scored a 99 out of 100 on the quiz. This gave my anxiety even more anxiety. The counselor diagnosed me with almost every kind of anxiety you can think of. She then asked me to find a way to escape whenever the voice in my head began to send negative thoughts throughout my brain.

I had always been interested in running, and even dabbled in a 5K fun run every once in a while. After my diagnosis of Severe Anxiety, I laced up, and began running. Running became the most important thing to me. It became my constant. I knew that when I ran, I could pray, run off negative energy, and scream at my anxious thoughts. Soon, I had built up enough stamina to conquer my first half marathon. In 2016, I ran my first half in 2 hours and 26 minutes and was ready to train for more. After running 4 half marathons, I signed up for my first full marathon. This proved to be a feat and I can easily say this was the hardest thing I have ever done. I spent the last 5 miles repeating the phrase “Just one more mile. Take one more step.”

The Boston Marathon is an event I have watched for years. A few days after Marathon #1 ended, I began to set my sights on Boston. My anxiety began telling me that I was probably too slow and would never make it. Well, with the help of 1 powerful God, multiple selfless running partners, and the support of my family and friends, I hope to qualify for Boston by the time I turn 30. I recently ran my second Marathon, the BMW Dallas Marathon, and managed to knock 21 minutes off my time from Marathon #1. This, to me, was huge. This meant that the training I was doing, the running community I chose to surround myself with, and the healthy life I was creating for myself, was paying off 110%. Anxiety may be a constant battle every single day, but by God, I refuse to let it stop me from reaching my goals.