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To Help Her Heal, This Runner Found Peace Sharing Her Journey Running Through Grief

Running is Sonia Glover’s therapy and her chance to connect with her late parents.

sonia glover how cycling changed me
Courtesy Sonia Glover

Name: Sonia Glover

Age: 43

Hometown: Chandler, Arizona (Originally from Heber, Arizona)

Occupation: Medical Laboratory Scientist

Time Running: 36 years

Reason for Running: I run in memory of both of my parents. “Running Through Grief” is my way of bringing awareness to those who are struggling with grief-driven depression or death post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Running has always helped me both physically and mentally. When I am running out on the trails, I get to release my anxiety and depression as I meditate in nature. I also feel my parents are closer to me while I run. For example, I can hear my dad’s footsteps alongside me as I run. My parents send me beautiful signs in the form of butterflies. White butterflies are my dad and yellow are my mom.


I first started running at the age of 7, my grandmother came from Mexico to spend the summers with my family in Heber, Arizona. She was health-conscious took me to the track to run. That summer is when I fell in love with running and have been running ever since. My parents then inspired me to join track in my junior and high school years.

I officially started running races in 2010, and my parents and husband, Ian, became my number one supporters and inspiration. I ran my first Rock ’n’ Roll half marathon in 2011. From 2012 to 2014, I continued to run half and full marathons without any training plan or running apps. And in 2015, I ran the San Francisco Marathon.

In 2018, I hired running coach Lisa Pozzoni, ChiRunning/ChiWalking Master instructor from The Running University to start transitioning from road racing to ultramarathons. I ran four, including: the McDowell Frenzy 50K, Coldwater 52K, Black Canyon 60K, and Crown King Scramble 50K, as part of coach Lisa’s 212K Challenge. Coach Lisa incorporated cycling, strength training, and ChiRunning form techniques into my running plans. In 2019, Coach Lisa trained me for my first 100K, which I ran in memory of my father.

My father was a Tarahumara from Chihuahua, Mexico. My father asked me one day, “Why do you love to run?” As I was answering his question, he stopped me in the middle and said, “Because I am a Tarahumara–therefore, you are too. It’s in your blood to run long distances.”

My husband Ian and I were my parents’ primary caregivers, along with other family members. On March 3, 2019, we lost my dad, Bernardo Mata, unexpectedly while my mom was undergoing chemotherapy and I was training for the 212K challenge. My dad passed away 28 days before the Crown King Scramble 50K, which was the last race in the 212K challenge. I did not have any desire to continue running or finishing that challenge as my grief-driven depression set in. A priest at the funeral home convinced me to run that race in memory of my dad. With my mother’s blessing, I ran that race.

I struggled so much during it not because of the rugged terrain or steep climb, but because I kept getting the horrible flashbacks of the medical workers working on my dad in trauma Room 1 in the same hospital I work. Those flashbacks crippled me as I screamed and cried, grieving my dad. I did finish the race, but nine minutes over the cutoff time. It was my first, “Did Not Finish,” DNF. But, I came back months later on October 26, 2019, to run my first 100K at Javelina Jundred, and the following month on November 3, 2019, to run the New York City Marathon again in his memory.

Fourteen months later, on May 23, 2020, we lost my mother, Cruz Mata. Our family firmly believes she passed away from a broken heart since she was in remission. I quickly spiraled down into more profound depression. For about 11 months, I did nothing but waste away on the couch, falling deeper and deeper into depression, and the PTSD was worsening. It was not until I was introduced to running and life coach, Tommy Lunetta, that I started to cope with the loss of both of my parents through mindfulness and meditation. I wanted to run a race to honor my parents, so I chose the Javelina Jundred 100 miler, October 30-31, 2021.

When I began to train for this race, I questioned my ability to take on such a journey. I knew I was a different person. When you witness a loved one take their last breath right before you, it changes your life forever. And because of that, I was not the same strong-minded athlete. As the months of training progressed, I found myself becoming mentally stronger through meditation. I went on to run my first 100 miler, and I managed to cross the finish line seven minutes past the 30-hour cutoff, conquering every obstacle that I experienced before and during the race. I realized once I crossed that finish line, I was not the same person, but a strong-willed individual just like my parents.

My running goals for this year have changed as I am recovering from two sprained ankles, right ankle ligament tears, and Achilles tendonitis. Because I am still recovering from my injuries, I am racing the Javelina 100K instead of the 100 miler and concentrating on running a shorter distance like 50Ks and a 24-hour timed race. My future goal for 2023 is to run the Black Canyon 100K, TransRockies Run, Javelina 100 Miler, and Coldwater 100 Miler.

If you are just starting out running, remember not to compare yourself with others. This advice goes to the seasoned runners as well. You are on your own running journey and you will write it with one footstep at a time. Do not get stuck in your head that you are not a runner by the way you look. We as runners come in many different shapes and sizes.


These three tips have made my running journey a success

1. Incorporate strength training into your running plan

Strengthening your muscles will help you prevent running injuries and stay healthy. I suffered for years with runner’s knees. As soon as I started to weight train, my knee pain was gone, and I was a stronger and healthier runner.

2. Get a coach

If you are new to running, I would strongly suggest hiring a running coach to help you train for your upcoming races. My coaches have helped me learn about electrolytes, nutrition, practice correct running form, and training properly for a race.

3. Stretching and yoga

Coach Lunetta told me the following: “The amount of time you devote to running, you should devote the same amount of time stretching.” Stretching has so many benefits for us runners by keeping us injury-free: prestretching warms up our muscles, and post-stretching helps the blood flow circulation for quick recovery.


Sonia’s Must Have Gear

Injinji Toe Socks

I love them for the reason they help prevent blisters and allow your toes to naturally splay.

Pro compression Calf Sleeves

ProCompression calf sleeves are a must for running and and for my 12 hour shifts at work. I love that they provide so much support and help with recovery.

Salomon Adv Skin 12 Running Vest

I love this running vest because it is so comfortable and has so many compartments. It also has an insulated sleeve to keep your water cold.

Squirrel’s Nut Butter All Natural Anti Chafe Salves

I love this product because it’s natural and you can go for a long time without applying.


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