Interview with April Putnam
Since the Heroes in Recovery 6K Virtual Race Series launched, we’ve seen participants all over the country join the movement to #BreakTheStigma. By walking or running anytime, anywhere, our #VirtualHeroes are spreading the Heroes in Recovery message in their local communities and beyond.
Today, we’re excited to introduce you to April Putnam, one of our incredible #VirtualHeroes, and the inspiring reason behind why she’s recently participated in not one, but six (!) virtual races.
A Look Inside the Heroes in Recovery Virtual Race Series
HIR: April, thank you so much for being part of the Heroes in Recovery community! We heard you’ve been pretty busy lately running a few virtual 6Ks. Could you tell us a little more about that?
A: I finished up my six-run series in about a month, and really loved the whole process. The shift in motivation really created a great purpose for my miles.
HIR: What was your motivation behind running six 6Ks?
A: I have been a runner for a very long time, and over the years my motivation for running has certainly changed. After the first of the year, I had really been struggling to lace up [my shoes] and get on the road. Finding the Heroes Virtual Series was the perfect thing, and at just the time I needed it. I signed up for the full six-6k series as a birthday present to myself, and I committed to getting as much meaning and fulfillment out of the process as possible.
HIR: Since we were cheering you on from afar, could you tell us what it was like to cross your virtual finish line?
A: When I signed up, I considered running all 6Ks as one long run. But then I realized I would get the most personal enjoyment and impact out of the experience if I ran each “in dedication” to someone in my life who has impacted by addiction or mental health issues. I made the right decision!!
HIR: What does breaking the stigma of addiction and mental health issues mean to you?
A: The mission of Heroes in Recovery is now a very personal one. Literally every person in my family has been impacted by addiction and/or mental health issues. Living our best lives and working toward our most healthy selves can only happen with the love and support of others. Breaking the stigma and allowing people to be open and honest about their struggles is the best way I know to show that love and support.
HIR: If you had a friend who has never run a race before, what encouragement would you give them?
A: The race community, in my experience, is a powerful force. A group of people who have all gathered together to exert physical energy, simply for fun, is a really great thing. Runners are really supportive and encouraging to other runners.
“The race community, in my experience, is a powerful force. A group of people who have all gathered together to exert physical energy, simply for fun, is a really great thing. Runners are really supportive and encouraging to other runners.”
HIR: In a few words, what would you say to someone who’s thinking about registering for the virtual race series?
A: The virtual race series is a really great way to support a cause if, like me, you live far away from any race location. Your 6K can be run on your schedule, in your location and with no early morning start time if you’re not a morning person! 🙂
HIR: What was it like to receive your Heroes in Recovery swag in the mail?
A: Oh man!! My coworkers were really tolerant of me that day. 🙂 I was so touched at how personal and meaningful all the materials are, and it’s definitely high-quality gear that I will use for years. I am actually wearing my 6K race shirt right now and drinking from my “Woke, Not Wasted” cup!
HIR: What was your favorite part of participating in the virtual race series?
A: My favorite part was the support from the Heroes team and the Virtual Runners Facebook group. I really looked forward to posting each run in hopes that I was encouraging others to post their runs as well.
It was also really humbling and fulfilling to work on each personal dedication. To think of that person as I ran — their struggles, successes and the great life each works to build. I found myself selecting a route they might enjoy if they were with me, taking photos of things that person might enjoy on the route. It really made it so deeply personal.
HIR: What does the Heroes in Recovery community mean to you?
A: The Heroes community is one I honestly feel I had been part of for years now, I just didn’t realize it. For me, in my family, addiction and mental health issues are the norm, not an anomaly. It’s a “WE” problem, not a “THEM” problem. When I stumbled upon the Heroes in Recovery website, it was a confirmation of this feeling. We have to normalize how we speak about mental health issues so people feel comfortable and safe speaking about their own struggles. With each celebrity and famous person who “outs” their self about things like disordered eating, panic attacks or postpartum depression, I feel encouraged that perhaps the stigma is being chipped away.