Running has always had a large role in my life. From racing kids to the fence in Elementary School to eventually breaking a school record and qualifying for the NCAA National Championships in college.
I did not start running competitively until my junior year of high school, but I enjoyed it so much that soon wanted to run competitively in college. I did everything I could to become the best runner possible and earn myself a spot on a college team. Running absorbed itself into my soul and everything I did revolved around running.
But once I got to college, things began to change. I started to lose interest in the sport and the thrill of running was not the same as it used to be. Collegiate running was not everything that I pictured it would be and it started to get increasingly difficult to be excited about running each day. For most of my college career, I battled thoughts and emotions of wanting to quit, despite achieving many of the goals I had laid out for myself before entering college. I began to feel that the amount of time I invested into the sport was holding me back from experiencing other parts of my life that I wanted to explore.
At the time, the only thing keeping me in the sport was the glory of standing on a championship podium and a developing ego. I had a false sense of reality that my self-worth was measured by how fast I could run.
At the start of 2020, I was winning races around the country and I have never been more fit. But something had been brewing all around the world. The pandemic reached our shores and in March, society came to a halt. Schools were transitioning from in person classes to online classes and all athletic competition came to an end. It all happened so fast.
I had mixed feelings about my sport being canceled. It was disappointing to see an entire season disappear in an instant, but in a sense I was relieved. Social Distancing gave me time to reflect on my time in the sport. It gave me time to read books and explore other areas of my life. For the first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to not be an athlete for a period. It was difficult but it allowed me to breath. My interests and curiosities began to drift towards other hobbies, and I started to feel myself evolving as a person.
After some time off, I began to re-learn how to run. I went on a run because I wanted to. Because it was natural and it’s what my legs wanted to do. I ran because it was fun. It was a wonderful feeling to rediscover these old emotions with running. It was not long ago that I was certain I was going to quit. But now I am certain that I was running for the wrong reasons.
Before, I ran for a sense of self-esteem. But now I am running for me. I am running because I have goals that need to be reached. I am not running for the respect from others but respect for myself. To challenge myself and dig deep. To prove to myself that throughout difficult times, times of confusion and frustration, that I am still in the game and that I am still standing.
Now more than ever, I understand that I will have difficult trials ahead of me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, but growth does not come easily. Throughout my college career, I feel I have failed many times to understand myself and what my role is in this sport. I have experienced many difficult things in my collegiate athletic career but running has also led me to experience some of the best moments of my life. I am proud of the journey that the sport of running has taken me on, and I am ready for the challenges ahead. It’s about to be my Senior year so let’s get it! #lastyearfastyear