Runner finds inner motivation

Emily Wright

Senior Emily Wright runs in the early mornings. Photo by Muhammad Al-Rawi.

This morning when my alarm went off, the last thing I wanted to do was lace up my shoes and hit the sidewalk. I would have preferred to curl up in my mound of comforters and ease back into sleep. But, no, I dragged my lazy body out of the warm bliss and onto the frostbitten pavement.

My legs screamed to stop as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other. My muscles twitched with every step. My mind began to think I was so tired I might, in fact, fall asleep right there on the concrete path of my neighborhood.

Then a realization struck me — why would I pry myself out of bed at such a ridiculous hour to run every day? As a distance runner, this was not the first time the question had prodded me. It usually comes to mind on those painful morning runs when drinking boiling water sounds more appealing than taking even one step onto the road. And each time I begin to question my daily ritual of running I convince myself there is a decent reason for it. So I gulp that wintry wind and motivate myself.

To start, track begins next Monday, marking the beginning of my eighth season as a distance runner. I’m already seven eighths of the way there. I have one more season to set personal records — why stop now? People depend on me to work as hard as they are, to log miles so we can make history just as we did in the fall with our second place trophy at state.

So for me to take an extra day of rest just so I can cling to my mattress would be completely selfish. My feet continue to brush the ground as my legs press forward.

I’ve been through worse. There was the time my junior year when, unknown to me, my iron levels plummeted. My legs felt like lead, slow and rusty, and I transformed into a sickly, pale anemic. Running felt like a disappointing endeavor, laced with failure, as I was unable to cling to my teammates’ pace, putting me further and further behind. There were times I wanted nothing more than to throw my tennis shoes in the trash and quit for good. But even then I vowed to make a comeback and stick with it.

I think of how far I have come since day one of running before my freshman year, when I simply hoped to carve out my abs and get in better aerobic shape. I didn’t dream of being on varsity, and the thought never crossed my mind that I might be on RBHS’ first state trophy cross country team. No, in the beginning I was just in it for the abs.

My improvements have been too meaningful for me to head back to square one. In the end, I realize sticking with something when things get rough is necessary to reap any sort of benefit. Had I quit running a year ago, I wouldn’t have proven to myself that I could rebound. And though I wouldn’t be surrounded by the needle-like pain of chilly air in the early morning, I would not have had the opportunity to work with my teammates toward a common goal. Ups and downs are part of life, and I have learned to stick with running, facing the lows rather than shying away from them. For me, running has been a metaphor for the struggles that life brings.

So on my early morning jog, my pace quickens, defrosting my limbs and loosening my taut muscles. I can feel a rosy glow forming on my face.
It feels good
By Emily Wright