As my senior year track season comes to a close, I feel myself getting antsy. I’m excited, excited to sit back, relax, and reflect on the psycho that ran 10 miles in one day. I am excited to finally have some free time. Some time to hang out with my friends, watch TV (because you really take that for granted), go fishing, and sleep (because when you’re running you never get enough). Perhaps the thing that I’m most excited about is simply not running. Running, especially as a sport, can be a drag. It can get boring, repetitive, and it’s always painful. I am excited to wake up one day in the not too distant future and not be in pain. My hip won’t have a slight tingle, my knee won’t ache, and my calves won’t feel like they were thrown into a trash compactor.
But, as I reflect on all these looming positives, I think about what I will lose by not running. Although it sucks up time, can be painful, and is certainly repetitive, I will miss the important lessons that running has taught me. Through six years of running, I have learned about the power of grit, teamwork, and dedication. Even if I never slip on a running shoe after the conclusion of the season, which I consider to be an unlikely scenario, these lessons will stick with me.
Due to running’s painful and boring nature, one needs to have a strong mind in order to achieve success. Running 5 miles over hills and through sleet will teach you that giving up and complaining achieve nothing. They only dampen your drive and cause you to get home 30 minutes later, cold and defeated. In order to overcome challenges in running, you need a constant supply of perseverance. You need to have a reserve of strength on standby. Running teaches you to grit your teeth and press on, an important skill in life. You will need to do this during exam week, job interviews, and important presentations.
Apart from grit, running has taught me a great deal about teamwork. Although running is not perceived as a team sport. I have realized that I always run better with other people. Seeing my friends running beside me, pushing themselves to the limit, I realize that I am capable of doing the same. When I run by myself, I cut myself some slack and don’t work up to my full potential. When others are involved, I feel inclined to match their energy and always end up with a better workout. The benefit of teamwork in running and in life is that it keeps you honest and forces each individual to work up to their full potential in order to benefit the team. Learning the value of teamwork can help you utilize the skills and potential of others in school and in the work force and can assist you in offering your contributions.
The last lesson that running has taught me goes along with grit. Through six years of attending practices and meets, I have recognized that one does not improve without attending the greatest number of practices they possibly can. I attended winter practices in the snow and drove to optional Sunday workouts in order to improve. Due to this dedication, my times dropped every year and always fell during the season. Seeing my improvement, I have learned that dedication to something will always help you improve at it. I will take this with me after the conclusion of the season.
To all those leaving running, and to those experimenting with it, it is just like life. It’s tough and can get boring. It demands the best from you day in and day out. It forces you to learn about yourself and test your limitations. Sitting on my couch this summer, I’ll remember everything that running has taught me, and knowing myself, I’ll slip on some shoes and jog outside.