I probably should start by saying that I’m hesitant to bring up the topic of running with “non runners” due to the fact that I sometimes get elusive responses, or better yet excuses. Somehow during our conversation the fact that I run “X” amount of miles a day in “Y” amount of time generates the same reaction… “Oh, I could never do that” or “How can you do that? I can barely run a mile.” I do realize that not all responses are negative though. Sometimes people are glad to hear that you are being active and healthy. This positivity is one of the many ways I stay motivated. I find that if you put your mind toward your goals, anything is possible. The human body is capable of doing amazing things.
I remember my sophomore year in high school when I had set a personal goal of trying to run a mile in under 5 minutes. This was something I could only dream of at the time, but with practice and a lot of hard training this goal became less of a dream and closer to a reality. I didn’t start off as a great runner though nor am I one right now, but with dedication I became the runner I am today.
When I was in middle school I joined the running club. I’m not sure why I started. Perhaps it could have been for a girl or maybe because it kept me out of trouble. One thing is for sure, I was not thinking about any of the health benefits or any personal records. Running club would meet every Tuesday and Thursday after school and we would run around the perimeter of the school. It was only a mile or two, but it was tough. After realizing that I could run a mile or two I wanted to explore what other types of running I could participate in while in school. I tried out for the spring track team not as a long distance runner, but as a sprinter. This may have stemmed from the fact that my older brother was a sprinter in track so I naturally thought that I could do the same. Surely enough I found out that I was not a sprinter. I came in dead last every race and I thought that I was moving fast, but in actuality I wasn’t. I realized that running track and sprinting weren’t really my thing. I then continued to meet up with the running club after school, but stepped away from running track.
The summer before high school my older sister said to me “hey, you should try out for the cross-country team.” I wasn’t keen on the idea of racing with other people yet due to my middle school track experiences, but after a few tries my sister suckered me into running cross-country. She said it was “like the running club” but longer distances. That August I started running in the high school cross-country team practices. After a couple of practices I met one of my best friends, Tom, who was in his Junior year of school and had just started running cross country too. We quickly became friends due to the fact that we were both slower than the rest of the team. The coach always told the team to run at a “talking pace” which is the ability to run and hold a conversation while still getting in a solid workout. Tom and I were completely out of breath trying to keep up with the team. We always wondered what it would be like to be up with the rest of the team. At that moment, Tom and I became determined to catch up with them, but what we didn’t realize was that in doing so, we would soon surpass them.
During the fall cross-country season, we pretty much ran every day after school and on Saturdays. Tom and I decided to do our own workouts during the off-season as well. We went further and trained harder based on what we learned from the team and coaches. Soon we were able to hold conversations at a faster pace at longer distances. Something inside us clicked and made us want to keep up the pace and turn up the intensity of our workouts. We competed in winter and spring track to keep up with other runners at faster paces for shorter distances. Tom and I were dedicated to the idea that we could one day run under 7 minutes for a mile. We both continued to run faster, growing stronger every day. We wanted to hit that 7 minute mile time and sure enough we did! It felt great getting to that milestone. Once we achieved that, we realized how easy it came to us after all that training. I personally wanted to see how far I could take this new-found ability. I then set my sites on training for a mile under 6 minutes. While I was training for that, Tom had his own personal goals to achieve which were graduation and college. After Tom graduated we slowly went our separate ways. I soon found myself even more determined to reach my overall goal in running, which was to run a mile in under 5 minutes. All of my training and dedication led me to reach this goal before graduating high school. I had finally ran a mile in under 5 minutes and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
I realized over time that running isn’t about just running. It’s about setting a specific goal, training hard, putting in some time and effort, then achieving something amazing! In my case it was achieving a goal that I originally had not thought was possible, but it was. Your body can accomplish amazing things, you just have to set your mind to it and go. Great things can be achieved with practice and hard work.