I Believe in Running

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I just made it over the last hill. The hardest part is over and it’s exhilarating. My cheeks are red, but my breathing is leveling off. I can feel my bangs flying out of my headband. I try to focus on my feet hitting the ground at a consistent “step step, step step” pace.

I slow down a little as I pass the Pattee Library to take everything in: the sound of rustling leaves in the wind, the smell of dewy grass and the voices of people walking past me.
Finally, I reach the intramural fields. I pick up my pace, cross the finish line and when my legs decide to stop, I bend over and stretch my hamstrings. I’m tired, but I feel great.
I believe in running. But it took me a while to realize it.
Until only three years ago, I refused to run. It just seemed too difficult. If the subject came up I just told people I hated running, and at the time I really did.
It took me a while to attempt running even when I was fit enough. And when I did, I didn’t like how it made me feel or how I felt afterward. I couldn’t breathe, my legs ached and I was way too sweaty. But eventually I tried again, to prove to myself I could do it. I could make myself a runner.
This time, I discovered that I actually enjoyed running. It made me feel empowered—not only because running felt good, but also because I discovered I could do something that I used to think was too hard for me. Eventually, if I didn’t run for a couple of days, my legs ached to rhythmically hit the belt of the treadmill or the pavement outside and my lungs longed to burn from being worked too hard.
In time, I progressed from being able to run three miles at a time to six miles. And then I began racing.
The races started out as something leisurely my roommates and I could do together. That first time, we didn’t care about how long it took to run the 5k, just that we finished. I noticed, though, that I got a little better each time I raced, so I started to set time goals for myself and I began to actually train. I have since run seven races and it is my one of my favorite things to do.
Since becoming a runner, I’ve learned how bad shin splints hurt and how expensive quality running shoes are. I’ve also learned how exhilarating it is to make it to a finish line faster than ever before. But more importantly, I’ve learned you should try something more than once. You might actually find you enjoy doing something the second time around.
Now when I feel like giving up on something that I think is too hard, I remind myself I used to think I didn’t like to run.
I’m so glad I tried again. Because now I can truly say, “I believe in running.”

-Brittany Svoboda

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