Running can do so much for people. Running can be a way for someone to find out more about themselves. Running can also be a way to build community and run for a cause to raise awareness.
Jean-Paul, the youngest of five children, grew up in North Toronto. But his childhood was scarred by physical and sexual abuse.
Throughout his adulthood, Jean-Paul struggled with alcohol, drug addiction and depression. In his early 30s he entered a treatment program to deal with the addictions – but his hurting, his healing and his journey was not over.
Last spring Jean-Paul disclosed to his wife of almost 28 years and his 25-year-old son that he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and soon after entered a treatment program in Toronto. The program, called Gatehouse, specializes in working with adult male survivors of sexual abuse.
Jean-Paul has been an English teacher for the last 25 years but will be leaving at the end of December to pursue a new career path in writing and public speaking.
Jean-Paul and running
Jean-Paul says he has always been a runner and it shows. He’s run 81 marathons and is currently training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. He says his most memorable moment came when he finished his double Boston Marathon run for survivors of sexual abuse and raised over $20,000. Impressive numbers and impressive accomplishments, but for Jean-Paul it is not all about the running.
How and why did you started running?
“I’ve always been somewhat of a runner, but I never really started taking it seriously in terms of long-distance running until I entered a treatment program at Alcoholics Anonymous. I met to other men there and we started to train together every Sunday for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon. All three of us managed to qualify for Boston in that first race and the rest is history.”
What do you want to accomplish through your running and your writing?
“I think I’ve turned a corner in that I believe that running, for me, is no longer about setting PRs and chasing the the podium in my age group. Now running has become more of a spiritual and a transformative activity. When I was newly sober running was my escape, a way to shut my mind off. Now, running is my temple, a way to connect more deeply with how I’m feeling about coming to terms with living life sober on life’s terms, and more recently, accepting that the trauma I experienced in my childhood does not have to define my present and future. I believe that inside of each of us is something that we feel pained sharing or exposing to the world. Running is the most beautiful way to bring that pain out of each of us to a place where it no longer defines us, or limits us. The running community is nurturing, challenging and, ultimately, freeing.”
See you on the roads or in the blogosphere.
Do you have a running story to tell?
Follow and read more about Jean-Paul on his personal blog “Breathethroughthis”.