Running is such a big part of my life that I often forget how long it has taken me to get this far. I have been running since I was 8 years old with numerous injuries, silly fun runs, and silent long runs. This cross country season didn’t go as planned because I got caught up in it all: food, over-training, college applications, etc. But now when I look forward I am going to treat my body right and train for Track in the best way possible because at the end of the day; I love to run.
When I was 8 years old my mom took me on my first real run. We ran a park loop near my house (that I have run a million times since then) that was about 3 miles. We walked some, ran some, and charged up the big hill in the middle. I loved it and continued to run this loop with her until my first 5k several months later. But until 8th grade, running wasn’t really my priority since I played soccer pretty regularly. I ran on the side to train for soccer and didn’t think much of it.
I started track in 6th grade and that was when I was introduced to distance running. I competed in the 1600m and the 800m throughout middle school until I got injured in 7th grade. I was crushed. Balancing soccer and track was hard when I had a tendency to sneak my running shoes in my backpack after school so I could log 7-milers without my parents knowing. Without proper training or strengthening my hip gave way to a stress fracture.
After that I learned how to run “the right way.” I joined a local track club that was mostly adults. We would gather on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings for intense tempos and interval sessions. It was awesome but a little frustrating at first since I couldn’t keep up with these fast adults. Little by little, my training started to pay off and I saw my pace quicken with each tempo. In 9th grade I decided I wanted to run Cross Country instead of play soccer. It was a big decision at the time, but it was a decision I’ve never regret.
Throughout high school I trained year-round, still with the same track club and learning how to manage training. In 10th grade I decided that I needed to change my diet if I wanted to be faster and run more efficiently. I switched to quinoa and avocados and saw my times lower and my body feel healthier. But I think today I still struggle with finding what kind of diet works for me. Junior year I lost 10 pounds before and during XC season because I wasn’t eating enough. Senior year XC season I wasn’t eating enough even though I was eating the “right foods.” I have switched to a more “plant-based” diet and am still figuring it out with some advice from a dietitian (blog post on this coming soon!).
I have run through snow, 100-degree weather, and pouring down rain and have never quit. I have gone running even when I don’t want to and would rather watch Netflix. I have run through Hawaiian jungles and the trails of San Francisco. Running is an amazing sport because I love the amount of grit and determination that results. Hard work is rewarded and weather is no longer a factor. I started running for the pure joy of it and I continue for that same reason.
I love how running brings us together by training, food similarities, or even the same pair of running tights. I love this sport so much and I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions; Why did I start running? & Why do I still do it? You might surprise yourself with what you learn.