Dear Running...From an Ex-Trackie

2283

2283 miles from the summer of 2017 to the spring of 2019. Not miles driven, not airplane miles, but 2283 miles of running. First of all, wow that is a lot. Second of all, who keeps track of their daily running mileage for two years straight? The answer is me. To say I was a hard-core trackie during my junior and senior years of high school is an understatement.

During the second half of my high school years, I did three seasons of running: cross-country in the fall, indoor track in the winter, and outdoor track in the spring. In all types of weather, I would be outside in a pack of girls, running through the streets of my hometown. You know those people you see outside in January, with snow on the ground, while it is raining, running in a T-shirt. Yeah...that used to be me. Even now, I enjoy fitness and working out; yet, there is no way I could be running at least four miles every day, six days a week, like I used to. No longer a “cross-country girl” and now a “casual runner,” I actually find myself appreciating running more and reflecting on what ALL those miles taught me.

Athletic Shoes Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

First, discipline. I remember countless times feeling burned out, stressed, exhausted, and the last thing I wanted to do was go for a seven-mile cut-down run. However, I rarely remember stopping a mile early, not finishing a repeat, or slowing down during a track workout. Something stopped me from just saying, “Nah, I don’t feel like running up this massive hill. I’m just gonna go home.” Maybe it was fear of letting my teammates down, or disappointing myself; however, running taught me to follow through and made me realize I am capable of a lot more than I thought.

Next, progress. The first run back after a while is painful, disappointing, and discouraging. Even after two weeks of running consistently, you probably still feel out of breath and out of shape. Finally, after 4 weeks of steady running, you might start to notice some progress; however, even just taking 4 days off and you are back to square one. I went through this frustrating cycle of spending so much time getting into shape, then life gets in the way and suddenly I had to start all over. Yet, knowing I was able to do it before always gave me more confidence to do it again.

Finally, perspective. Probably one of the most important lessons I learned from running nearly every day was to put it into perspective. Whether I was nervous for a race, disappointed by my performance, or felt like I wanted to quit, I learned to remind myself that running is just a hobby for me. There was no need to stress over this sport, but instead, focus on the positives it had on my life.

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Now, I run a couple of times a week. However, it is not to get into stellar shape or train for a big race. Instead, it gives me time to think and de-stress, time when I can speed up if I want to feel stronger or slow down if I’m just feeling tired. After a couple of years of running and too many miles later, I am a little burned out. So, yeah, I appreciate running–for the people it brought into my life, for the lessons it taught me, for the confidence it gave me–and I will always be a trackie at heart.