This I Believe

Travis - Rolling Hills Estates, California
Entered on March 8, 2007

Running Has Taught Me Everything

I believe that running has taught me everything.

Laugh if you want—“Running is just putting one foot in front of the other!” How many times have I heard this belittling comment? It doesn’t bother me anymore though because running has told me its secrets and nothing can take them away from me.

Running has taught me what it means to be free. When I am running on the trails and the only sounds I hear are my pounding feet and the calm of nature, I can feel what freedom is. No one can touch me.

And when you are pushing yourself to keep going, and it is the last half-mile of the race, and you just want to stop and lay down, you don’t. You finish the race and think about how much you have gone through, and there behind you is someone actually crawling towards the finish line, about to pass out. Here is someone beaten, being passed by every single second, but that person does not give up, never. You see what being human is all about.

There is no faking anyone who you really are when you are on the course. The rest of life is subjective. Who gets to play the saxophone solo? Who gets the lead in the musical? Some people feel cheated and think that they got a bad deal. But when you are running a race, you cannot pretend. Whoever is the fastest wins. And because it is fair if they beat you, you feel united with them. You all go through the same struggle. After that guy sprints past you in the final twenty yards, you congratulate him on their effort. And when you see that person struggling up the hill next to you, you see that everyone is the same. All the divisors of the past seem silly. Race, religion, nationality. On the race course, we are united. We are all David beating Goliath.

It is an individual struggle, but your team helps you through it. Together, and only together, you can succeed. In this sport, the first man is just as important as the last. Through success and failure, you become closer friends, real friends. As I explained, you cannot hide your true self. Your whole team will know who you really are, and you will be responsible for your actions. Just like in real life.

Unity and freedom. They seem contradictory, but they’re not. I’ve learned the importance of both firsthand. So next time someone says, “Why don’t you play a real sport?” I can just inwardly smile because I believe that running has taught me everything.