As some of you may know, yesterday was National Running Day. Many people yesterday were posting all over social media pictures, tweets, and blog articles about how they were celebrating. As a runner sidelined by a low back injury, I was unable to participate by going out and running a few miles. However, this day always causes me to reflect on my own journey as a runner.
Running started out as just a hobby. In middle school, I began as a reluctant long jumper and hurdler. I loved the sport of track, but running anything over my 100m hurdle race seemed extremely daunting. I would lace up my trainers for practice and run what was expected of me, but not much else. In high school, I began to fall in love with the sport, with the help of the 300 hurdles. This race helped me realize what I was capable of: overcoming challenges, pushing myself past my boundaries. As I continued running in high school, I let these realizations drive my running. But I was still tentative and shy when it came to running. I was a hurdler, and nothing more.
It wasn’t until college when I really came into my own as a runner. During this time, I really began to look at running as an adventure. I saw running as a way to take me to places I’d never been, to meet people I’d otherwise not meet, and to do things I never dreamed possible. Running became, to me, an escape; through collegiate running in NCAA DIII, I traveled to many different cities, universities, and states, a great number of which I had never been to previously. Caught up in the excitement of the adventure, I began to challenge myself: running distances and races I never dreamed of (the 5k, the 10k–my new favorite!–the 500m run, even the open 60m dash, something that I never thought I was fast enough to do), and breaking school records, running faster times. I grew strong; I started doing periodic weightlifting and gained confidence in myself as a capable human being. I grew tough; I learned to run in the rain, both literally and figuratively. Running taught me to keep going through the difficult moments in my life and to attack whatever came my way with self-confidence.
And now, in my post-collegiate running, my appreciation for running has taken on a new form. Running, to me, is now another way to appreciate the journey. I am able to enjoy training for the sake of training and running for the sake of running. I’m excited to see where this new phase of running takes me!