Breaking Isolation Through Running

WORDS & Photographs by Alexandra Côte-Durrer

01. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

I think the common thing about people living with loneliness is that we think no one loves us and we really do truly believe we are alone. This negative thought can easily take over someones whole life if they don’t ask for help.  As of now, Thanks to WHO, statistics prove that 1 in 3 suffer from isolation, that’s about 2 billion of people on our planet!  

The fact is, I am not the only one dealing with this and if there are so many people dealing with loneliness…why aren’t we hearing more about it?

02. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

It’s kind of how I got into running. A week after I quit working at my old full time job, I was diagnosed with chronic depression which pretty much helped me understand why I always felt  the way I am. I told no one about my diagnosis a part from my old boyfriend and my  grandmother.  

It was only a little while after when I met a psychiatrist to talk about my diagnosis. He explained basically that chronic depression, AKA dysthymia is a long-term depression. The reality is that I will probably always have it, but that there are ways to control it and to feel a little less heavy by using medication and different types of therapy. He then told me that physical exercise can really help improve signs of depression as well. Notably running, which is one of the best sports to practice to see an immediate positive reaction to the brain.

So I started running. And running felt so good.

Slowly, I started integrating group runs to my weekly schedules. Have to admit, I had serious  imposter syndrome during my first social runs. I kept wondering to myself if I was a good  enough runner or if I was going to be in the back holding everyone down. I would bail more  times than actually show up and it was a constant battle. But once I was there, running, with  people, it felt so good!  

The runners high I usually always feel after runs felt better when I ran with people.  

03. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer
04. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

I now run in various run clubs in the community just to ad some social interactions here and  there apart from my local trail club. Of course finding the right run club is like finding the right  therapist; it takes a bit of time but when you find the right one, it basically gives you a second  family.  

After moving up north in a smaller community, it was very difficult to find run clubs. I began  running with a few friends in the area but longed for that group connection again. That’s when I  decided to start my own trail club in the hopes of bringing people together.  

05. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

I have to say it was quite overwhelming at first. The imposter syndrome came back as I wondered if I was even able to guide my own club. But again, I remember my therapist telling me that if I was nervous, it’s because it’s something I am passionate about. To take these  emotions, to feel them, but to also let them go when they pass. Simply channel my urge of  fighting isolation through community and running. 

People followed. 

06. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

Week after week, people showed up. We run different trails every week. Not only our bodies feel the love of self-care, but we are creating a safe inclusive community  for people to do what they love together.  

New runners arrive, and relish the connections they make upon arrival.
I feel full.
They feel full.

07. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

Now I am here. Still struggling with isolation, but feeling a lot less heavier. I wouldn’t be here writing these words if running did not find it’s way to me. I have learned to cherish those long solo runs, but to also look forward to those group runs. Being able to get outside and to connect with people who all share the love of the trails. 

Run clubs are therapeutic in so many ways we ignore.  

08. Courtesy of Alexandra Cote-Durrer

About Alexandra Côte-Durrer

Visual Meditation Series by Alexandra Côté-Durrer is a professional photographer, trail runner, and mental health advocate based in Sainte-Adele, QC Canada.

Her main canvas is Canada, particularly her home province of Quebec. Alexandra loves discovering and inspiring others to wander around her home province by showcasing some photographs, writing stories about her adventures, and of course creating content for tourism and adventure companies.

Alexandra’s goal is to work alongside amazing and inspiring companies constantly creating authentic and timeless content all over Quebec and Canada. She has been concentrating on commercial photography for over 7 years now and is currently focusing on adventure storytelling.

You can find more of her work on her pages:

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