last week i had the honor and pleasure of being the featured runner on the running stories. i had a lot of fun thinking through why i run and where my running story began. since today is national running day, i figured there was no better time to share with the world how i became a runner.
"Why I Run" (Also Known As "My First Time")
My first experience with endurance running could have easily been my last. No one would’ve blamed me or called me a quitter. It would’ve been a reasonable decision, really.
I became a runner in high school. My friend at the time had been begging me to join the cross country team with her. I wasn’t convinced but I finally agreed to attend one summer practice to give cross country a chance. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The practice that awaited me that day was one I will never forget. On one of the hottest days of the summer, the cross country team was willingly doing hill repeats on the largest hill in town (the prime sledding hill in winter). The workout was “simple”: run up the hill, run down the hill, run about a quarter mile loop around a field and then go back up the hill, down the hill and repeat the loop. The challenge was to finish as many loops as possible until you could run no more.
I don’t remember how many loops I did that day, but I do remember thinking I was going to die and that I couldn’t possibly do one more loop and that I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do this for fun. When the workout was over and I thought I had refuge at last, I had my first experience with runner’s stomach in a bad, bad way. Unfortunately, I had also locked myself out of my parent’s house. Legs crossed, awkwardly hopping in place trying to keep everything in, I did the only thing I could think of at the moment and broke into the house. I got in trouble for ruining a window screen, but saving my face and making it into the bathroom in time was well worth the cost of screen repair.
Hills. Heat. Embarrassing runner’s stomach... I could have quit right there. But for some reason I didn’t. I ran two years of high school cross country. I became team captain even though I wasn’t even close to being the fastest runner. And I still reflect on cross country as being the best part of my high school experience.
I run because running changed me. It made me a better person, a better leader. It showed me how to find my inner strength when I thought I had none and it taught me how to believe in myself. Running brings me a sense of freedom, an escape to a place that only I can get to, even if I’m running alongside someone else. Running keeps me healthy and fit, both physically and mentally. And I’m always learning something new, whether its about running as a sport or myself as a runner or myself as a person. Running gives back in so many ways and that’s why I keep putting on my running shoes and pounding the pavement. :)