By Zoe Doebbler
I am tempted to spit out clichés when I talk about running. I want to say the usual stuff
about how my sport “builds character” and is “better than therapy.” While I believe these things
are true, I do not want to talk about them.
After the clichés, the next words that come to mind are “pain” and “sacrifice.” I want to
address those concepts because they are the figurative meat and potatoes of athletics, and as
such, are the most rewarding.
Participating in athletics at any level requires commitment. As a cross country and track
distance runner, I log 40-50 miles a week. A typical run for me is six miles, which, depending on
how I feel, can take anywhere between 45 to 55 minutes. With the stretching, drills, weights, and
team meetings added in, I typically do not leave practice after school until 4:30 or 5 p.m.
Additionally, I run on Saturdays and Sundays and occasionally cross-train. All in all, I end up
spending about 14 hours a week on my sport.
Yes, it is occasionally a strain to run that much. But I do not really feel the pain and
sacrifice of sports until after practice. Unlike the majority of student-athletes, instead of going
home and vegetating after my workout, I go straight to work.
I currently average 18 hours a week as a lifeguard at the YMCA. I am lucky for the
flexible work schedule I can create for myself; in season I work less, out of season I work more.
There are no set hours. However, speeding to work from practice, forgetting food to eat, and then
sitting in a lifeguard chair for five hours to come home to homework is by no means easy. A
more accurate descriptor would be “hell.”
Between schoolwork, athletics, and other commitments to the Dance Marathon and the
newspaper, I sometimes feel like I am being tugged in 50 directions. I cannot offer a solution
to that feeling because I usually deal with it by panicking and regressing to a four-year-old state.
Interestingly, what has gotten me through all of it has been my sport. Cross country has
been my rock for many years now. Pain and sacrifice are second nature to me after having
logged well over 7,000 miles at this point in my running career. Having chosen a sport that is
focused on getting from one place to another as quickly as possible has certainly translated well
to other aspects of my life, like scheduling.
What it comes down to is that I love running. I cannot imagine my life without it. This
desire to run has propelled me to where I am today. If I take it away, then I am back to square
Quenton Cassidy, protagonist of the cult running novel Once a Runner, referred to Trials
of Miles and Miles of Trials. This concept, of life always throwing up hurdles and hurdles
being a part of life, is one any serious athlete understands and embraces. There are no end to the
obstacles that may prevent me from reaching my goals, but by persisting, I will succeed if only
for the fact I persisted.
I think about that when I want to quit my job or running or trying in school. It is a
balance and it is difficult, yet I have made it this far, so why stop now?