For Camryn McAllister, a first-year student at Northeastern University and a San Diego native, running has been an integral part of life for the past five years. Earning her varsity letter for cross country during her senior year of high school, she also claimed the titles of “Most Improved” sophomore year and “Most Dedicated” senior year on her school team.
Camryn describes running as extremely rewarding not only physically, but also mentally and socially. In the past, she played softball, but she believes that running is more mentally demanding due to the individual stress placed on the athlete. “In a distance or cross country race, your physical endurance, as well as your psychological endurance, is tested,” she said. “My performance on a hill and the final stretch of a race were more so dependent on my mental strength rather than my physical strength.”
The discipline Camryn has learned through running has aided her in other areas of life as well. She has learned to focus more deeply on her school work, especially since running has forced her to go extended periods of time without using her phone. Moreover, since running allows her to temporarily disconnect from technology, she feels it has increased her creativity. While running, she likes to think about tasks she would like to accomplish that day or creative solutions to issues she may be facing with family or friends. Running allows her to gain greater clarity to attack these problems.
Another one of Camryn’s favorite things about running is the social community of the sport. She fondly remembers her time on her high school’s cross country team because she found some of her best friends there. Aside from meets, she remembers team breakfasts and dinners, fundraisers, and other athletic endeavors with her friends from the team. She and her friend Rachel even ran a half marathon together, and both of them ended up placing in their age group. This community is something she has continued to seek through recreational running as a part of her college life. Having spent her first semester abroad in Berlin, she ran with new friends who had also run in high school, and she supported one of her friends at the 2019 Berlin Marathon.
Running is close to Camryn’s heart because of its physical, psychological and social impacts on her life. Unfortunately, at this point in time, she has had to take a break from the sport due to a broken foot. Being unable to partake in her go-to mind-clearing activity during a time filled with confusion and uncertainty has been difficult for her, but she has been adapting and finding new ways to gain the same physical and mental effects.
Q: How did you break your foot?
A: I like to think that I broke my foot because of quarantine. I felt the need to be outside because the government told me not to, and the teenage angst within me could not resist the urge to go against their orders. Anyways, I decided to go skateboarding in the cul-de-sac outside of my house on a penny board… I had absolutely no experience and decided to hop on the board with absolutely no guidance. After thirty minutes of attempting to skateboard, the skateboard slipped from underneath me, and I landed weirdly on my right foot, so it rolled and made a cracking noise. My board rolled away, and I was left in the middle of the cul-de-sac. I called my dad, and he carried me back into the house, where I elevated and iced it. The next day, we went to urgent care, and I received x-rays. They found that two bones were broken: the one connected to my middle tow and a small piece of bone was completely broken off the outermost side of my foot.
Q: How do you feel about not being able to run during this weird time?
A: Not being able to run during this weird period of free time upsets me. Running is the usual source of energy for me and motivates me to get other things done during the day. I miss being able to explore parts of my neighborhood that have changed or stayed the same since I left to go to college. I also miss the running community in San Diego; being able to see friends from high school I have not seen in a while is one of the main reasons [I’ve continued] to run.
Q: How have you been spending your quarantine? Have you discovered any new hobbies?
A: I have been finishing school work for my second semester of college and staying connected to friends and family. I just finished school a couple of days ago and plan on spending the rest of my quarantine reading, using inDesign, and still keeping in touch with friends and family. (Check out her recently launched design account here!)
Q: Has having a break from running taught you anything new about health and fitness?
A: [It’s] taught me that health and fitness can affect my energy levels and mood quite dramatically. I often feel my best, emotionally, when I have completed a workout and feel as though I have physically exhausted myself. However, it has also taught me that there are other ways to get in cardio without having to put pressure on my foot. I have done a lot of core exercises on the ground that gives me a similar feeling of accomplishment and exhaustion that running has.
Q: How has recovery been, and what do you most look forward to?
A: Recovery has been smooth. I went to the doctor yesterday and transitioned from a cast, [which] I had for six weeks, to a boot. Now that I am in a boot I will begin to walk again without crutches. I most look forward to being able to walk normally again, without a boot. I want to be able to comfortably put pressure on my foot. I feel bad having to ask my family for food or water so I can avoid having to slowly crutch my way up and down the stairs. I would also like to be able to walk my dogs on a normal basis.
Camryn has shown how successful you can be when you mentally and physically devote yourself to an activity. After dealing with a broken foot during quarantine, she has also shown that adaptability and finding new outlets to express yourself can be a frustrating, but ultimately rewarding, journey.