Don’t get me wrong, I love to run and I will run for the rest of my life. However, running isn’t everything and it does not define you as a person. I have recently realized that running is not the most important thing in the world. I used to think it was one of the most important things.
I have been running since middle school. I started cross country in 6th grade, mostly because my mom made me. I am very thankful she did. I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t awful. I stuck with it all through middle school, doing track and cross country. It was a great way to make friends (I am still best friends with many of them), get exercise, and learn to be a part of a team. Running in middle school was important to me, but it wasn’t something I dedicated practically my whole life to.
High school cross country was much more time consuming and competitive. It seemed like if you missed one practice it was the end of the world. I made sure I could make it to as many, if not all of the practices during my four years of high school. Even in the summer, when the practices were optional, I made sure I was there. I never wanted to miss a day because that would be one day to get slower or out of shape. I made a lot of close friends because of cross country and we spent so much time together since we were always at school or practice each day. In high school, I wasn’t the best, but I was decently high up on the team, so I always felt the need to get faster. I ran the miles, did the cross training, and before my senior year started I even tried running everyday of the year. That didn’t end well for me because I got a stress fracture in my femur and was not able to compete during my last season.
I think being injured really changed my motivation. Once I was able to run without limits, I started training really hard, almost everyday. I began getting faster and faster. I didn’t really realize how fast I was getting. I didn’t do track my senior year so I just ran on my own or with my friends when our work schedules didn’t conflict. During the summer before college, I did the same. Once I got to college, I was the fastest I had ever been in my life. Every run I did was a sprint and I didn’t even know that it was because it felt so easy. During high school, my fastest 5k was 19:56 and I only came close to that a few times. I ran an 18:38 during my first semester of freshman year. I loved it. I loved being fast and basically racing myself around campus each day.
I took a pretty long break from running and started up again. I wasn’t as fast as I was before, but I really have no idea why I needed to be so fast to begin with. I wasn’t training for anything. I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could work as hard as possible and be the best runner I could be. After that break, it sunk in that I don’t have to be super fast and that running doesn’t define me as a person. I can run as slow or as fast as I want. It is all about doing something that makes me happy.
Now I run because I love the feeling after a great run. Because running is fun and something I can do with my friends. It gives me something to do when I am bored or when it is a nice day. I don’t need to be fast and there are many more important things in life, like spending time with family and friends, volunteering, working, etc. I realized I can have other hobbies. I don’t have to devote all of my time and energy to running or cross training so I can get better at running, like I thought I had to do in high school.
Running is still important to me, but it doesn’t consume my life. It is something I do because I love it and it makes me happy. Running is not my whole life like I once thought it was, but it is a part of my life.