The average high school student dreads running for leisure. Students in Walking 101 most likely take the class because of the course title, and when blind sided with the unfortunate task of running the mile wish they had read the fine print.
But in the eyes of a runner, there is nothing more invigorating than an open path to fill with dust and footprints.
A runner stands on the fresh chalk lines like the rest, waiting for the gun to go off. For most it is not the first time on that white line, like Kelsey O’Neill, who joined cross-country in 7th grade and has been running ever since 8th, or Victoria Plumage who has been involved with track since 6th grade.
For many competitive runners there is someone who ran or who still runs, now on the sidelines cheering and watching.
These people, family tree runners, have influenced runners on track, like O’Neill’s grandfather who still runs marathons even now, while in his 60’s.
Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman runner to win three gold during one year at the Olympics said, “I loved the feeling of freedom in running, the fresh air, the feeling that the only person I’m competing with is me.”
For others the feeling that goes through their minds can range from a blank slate, to the coaches, to others runners.
For Brandon Hines, keeping an open mind is a good strategy.
“I usually try not to think when I run. I let go of my thoughts,” he said. “If I do think it is usually about the other runner’s position on the track or cross-country course.”
This may only be the case for Hines, for others there could be an exact opposite, like Victoria Plumage, who has a lot of things going through her mind.
“I just tell myself to focus and watch the girl in front of me,” she said.
Others think about their coaches words of encouragement. They factor in to the run and give solid advice to their players and those tips can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place.
For most runners running is almost an addiction, if they don’t do it they can’t sleep and they get jittery and feel bottled up and very contained.
“When I don’t run I get a lot of pent up energy that I can’t burn off,” O’Neill said.
For many athletes this is also true skipping a few practices makes them sluggish and tired but they feel that they have the energy to burn and want to move, but cannot use it.
Running requires a deep connection to the track and to one’s own heart.
Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them; a desire, a dream, a vision.
For most runners, running is a passion, not just a sport.
As Hines said, “I have a mental desire to always run.”