Running For Life

Posted by: 
Sara Hanf

We are all in perpetual motion and there’s not one right way to live all the time. Life exists when the summer turns to fall or winter to spring. It is in the changing that we are the most alive. 

My lungs are open and working hard. My heart rate is up and steady. My toes have finally defrosted, two and a half miles into my three mile run. We’re on a curvy section of a main road with no shoulder and my partner and I have an unspoken system for not getting hit by oncoming traffic, which we’ve perfected over time. On this loop, there are 5 blind turns. In preparation for each turn we get into formation. I speed up a little, and she drops back, single file. We both move off the road onto the gravel space between the pavement and the grass. Coming out of the turn, I slow slightly and she speeds up to meet me again. As we round the final bend and pass the library, I look as far ahead as I can. I normally can see the final street that we’ll turn on to finish the run, but today I realized that even just a dusting of snow can obscure my view. 

It is the first snow of the year. It’s the kind of snow that silently filled in the cracks and adhered to the leaves on the ground and the newly bare branches on the trees. An uninhibited, quiet surprise left on the doorstep from the moon, or the stars. It's just the hush I needed to step out of Halloween and into Gratitude. In the stillness I can hear my heart’s whispered thoughts better. When the world is covered in a cozy blanket I am as open to my subconscious awakening as in a dream. And while I run along the edge of the road leaving footprints again for the first time in almost a year, I’m looking down, careful not to slip on the black ice, but also I’m looking up, careful not to miss the sparkling, sugar coated world. There’s time for both. 

I realized that when I run uphill, or when I’m feeling tired, I shift my focus downward. I keep my eyes fixed only a few feet in front of me. The pavement moves faster under my feet with this view. And I can see I’m making progress, even though I may have slowed down. I feel less anxious about what’s to come, or how much farther I have to go. It focuses my attention on the present, and in the moment, I know I’m ok. But when I run downhill I can relax and look around more. It’s like taking a deep centering breath that opens up my world, expanding my view. I see the big picture then, and from that view I can more easily overcome the small things. They are put back into perspective and lose their ability to overwhelm me. Running downhill gives my legs a chance to recover and my lungs a chance to catch up. I feel strong and powerful then. The endorphins create a sense of confidence and positivity that impacts the rest of my run and my day. That is why I run. 

The play between the meditative, in-the -moment focus required when pushing up a hill and the clarity that comes with the release at the top, center my mind, body and soul. It is then that I am able to think. I am free to let my insides out. I am open to my limitless potential. That’s when I believe that I am connected to life and that my unique footprint, when mixed with others, can create change the same way the snowflakes that were piled up on the trees changed my view. The readjusting and shifting required to stay balanced when running on mountain roads is the catalyst for understanding. It’s in the becoming, not the being, where my life is alive.





Sara Hanf is a 40 year old with CF, diagnosed at birth. She lives in Vermont with her two sons and their dog, who they got during the pandemic. Staying physically active and being out in nature keep her body and mind healthy. She is passionate about encouraging others to be empowered through exercise. This winter she will spend her weekends teaching kids to ski at her favorite ski mountain, Mad River Glen. You can contact her at:


Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER- 




***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 

***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***

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