I Hate Not Running by Lauren Sheperd

The methodical pounding of my feet against the grass satisfies me to no end. A perfectly split repeat that makes my heart pound is one of the best feelings in the world. 24 seconds for every 100 meters gets me a perfect 3:12 for the 800. Every time. 

How could anyone not find this satisfying? 

I wonder this all the time. And yet, my friends, my acquaintances, even my own teammates and the people next to me at the start line of a cross country race hate running. Even I hate it sometimes. 

Running is hard. It forces you to push not just physical, but mental limits. It hurts. Muscles burn. Once abundant oxygen suddenly becomes hard to find. Every brain cell, every muscle, begs you to stop. After all, it’s completely unnatural. Humans simply aren’t supposed to run far distances, much less with sub-seven minute mile splits. And yet, my teammates and I do it six days a week. For fun. 

So, why do I do it? I guess I could say it’s a habit. I have been running since I was six, after all. But it amounts to so much more than that. It’s a release. When I run, when I hit those perfect splits, when I control my breathing, when I feel a healthy burn in my muscles as I glide across the grass, I feel a sense of relief. Somehow, this feeling lifts every burden, every weight keeping me down off my shoulders. “How was that, Sheperd?” my coach asks. I always reply with “perfect” and begin my recovery, shocked at my newfound excitement to start my next repeat. 

I didn’t always love this sport. In fact, for a very long time, I hated it. It was a process of growth, but I am so thankful for it. Now, I wouldn’t give up my teammates, the early mornings, the pasta dinners, the camp memories, the lip sync battles, the constant karaoke, and yes, the running for anything. Without my daily endorphin rush, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

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