We are SUPER PUMPED to feature Lindsay Walter on the blog today. Lindsay is a remarkable woman who carries a beautiful and inspiring story. She is a phenomenal runner seeking to change the lives of others. Lindsay has been featured in Runner's World Magazine, POPSUGAR, Self Magazine, and in many other articles. Lindsay is also an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, Rabbit, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Read more about her story and her running career below!
"If I could tell my younger self anything it would be to dream all of the big dreams, to
work hard every single day in everything, to never let anyone make me feel like I
don’t deserve what I really want and to always believe in myself.
I lost all of my hair at age 2, due to the autoimmune condition, Alopecia. It was really
tough growing up hiding behind a wig, being bullied and teased all of the time for
the way my hair (wig) looked, my lack of eyebrows (now are tattooed on) and
missing eyelashes. When you lose your hair it also means losing apart of you. I didn’t
know anyone else who had Alopecia. This made me feel like I was all alone, an
outcast, and a constant reminder of how different I was than all my peers.
When kids would call me names I wouldn’t say anything back, or tell the teachers
because I felt like I deserved it. I truly felt like I was ‘ugly’ or ‘looked like a boy’. I was
so self conscious of the way I looked and turned very quiet and reserved. My
Alopecia held me back, and made me fearful of so much. I would say no to activities
and opportunities for the fear of being exposed, or someone finding out about my
Life continued on like this, but I had found one silver living; my athletic ability and
love for the game of basketball. This became my escape. I would work hard in
school, and then as soon as I got home shoot hoops in my driveway pretending like I
didn’t have Alopecia. I would dream of making the game winning shot, the crowd
would go wild and chant my name. I dreamed of playing college basketball, and
didn’t think of my Alopecia. I learned to work hard everyday and to dream big
during this. My dreams came true after a record breaking high school year I was
blessed to receive several scholarship offers to play in college, a dream come true.
When I went to college I was still very much hiding under my wig, only telling a few
close teammates. It was hard to navigate all of this in college with all of the other
changes that are happening. However, during this time I finally began to accept my
reality I didn’t want to for so many years. My hair was never coming back, and I
needed to learn to be ok with it. This was also the same season I decided to run my
first marathon. I was never a runner. In fact, the mile in gym class was dreadful for
me. It wasn’t because I couldn’t run the distance, but because I just didn’t like to run.
But, I am a competitive person by nature and my college town of Duluth, Minnesota
has the infamous Grandma’s Marathon every summer I had always watched (mostly
hanging out at the finish with friends). I was so inspired by all of the runners, their
smiles and emotions of the finish and knew I wanted to cross this off my bucket list.
My 1st marathon I toed the line, undertrained, unprepared, but starting myself on the
greatest journey of my life. Running down the streets along Lake Superior I felt so
strong, empowered and apart of a community. I have come to love the diversity of
the running community so much. We all look and train differently, have various
goals, but yet all have one thing in common; finishing the race.
I will never forget the feeling when I crossed the finish line, exhausted, overcome
with emotion and so happy. I was a marathoner and felt like a true super woman.
After this I was inspired and began to run marathons all over the country. I loved the
feeling of being in a new city, no one knew me or about my Alopecia, and I was
racing against myself. Every finish line was giving me more confidence and helping
me realize just how strong I truly am. One day on a long 20-mile run, I was so
overcome with emotion of strength, empowerment and courage that I took off my
wig mid-run. My eyes were full of tears, it was a moment I had always dreamed of. I
knew I was going to be ok and was finally the Lindsay I was always meant to be.
I went on to continue to run marathons without my wig and live my life in my truest
form, bald head out shining for the world to see. I was worried about the whole
world seeing my bald head, and for all of those people who were mean to me
growing up what they would say, or what people would think of me. But, the biggest
lesson I have learned and am thankful for is that my Alopecia is the greatest filter for
people and relationships who are not meant for me. People can be unkind, and
though it hurts I know who I am and how strong I truly am.
Alopecia has become the greatest gift I never knew I needed. It has made me
empathetic, strong, and inspired to help others. I have started a pen pal program for
children/teens with Alopecia, to be that person for someone that I needed when I
was younger. I am so thankful to have found my love of running and all that it has
brought to my life. All of the finish lines, the people I have met, and small moments
are something I will always treasure. I love the running community, the support and
inspiration I have found.
My biggest take away from my journey is to dream big, set big goals and to go after
all of the things you want in life. It is so important to be your own biggest fan, and to
do things for you, because then you will always win. I have run 41 marathons, one 50
miler and I am aiming to finish a 100-mile ultra next year. I never thought I would be a runner, or that this would be my life, but it is more magical than I ever could of imagined, I
feel like I am just getting started. I don’t always succeed, or accomplish my goal, but
I never quit, always get back out there and keep dreaming, and for that I am so
Check out other articles and podcasts about Lindsey!
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