This I Believe

George - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on November 13, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in running. I believe running can do more good than anti-depressants, sleeping aids, and diet pills combined.

Let me preface by saying that I don’t consider myself a runner, or even very athletic. I started running for two reasons. First to get my mind off of a terrible heartbreak, and second to fulfill one out of my 100 goals; Number 26: Run a marathon. I never ran a full mile in my life, and the goal seemed as lofty as Number 5: Be on the cover of a national magazine (for a positive reason).

So after many sleepless nights pondering a failed relationship, I decided to start my training. I figured I could do a light jog of three miles my first day. Four blocks from my house I was hunched over gasping for air. My sides hurt, my heart was racing, and I thought I would collapse on someone’s driveway.

It was also the first time I didn’t think about the relationship in weeks.

As the days passed I started logging miles at a slow pace. One mile in 14 minutes, two miles in 30. Weeks went by and I started completing longer runs with resilience and excitement. My mind started to gain a concentration I had never felt. My body strengthened and my motions became more fluid. I was also sleeping straight through the night and thinking less and less about the relationship. Thinking back on it, I guess I was preoccupied with wicking fabrics, proper running shoes, and what to do with body glide.

I have always admired professional athletes for the control they have over their bodies. An athletes mind orchestrates their muscles to perform a symphony of power, precision and grace. Their mental conditioning regulates intensity, pain, and endurance to push their physical boundaries and their mental self.

Through my training I not only learned a fundamental connection of mind and body, but the mental control over my entire life. Self imposed mental chains bind us, but exploration of our abilities can offer great happiness and fulfillment.

This October with two friends running by my side and a new girlfriend cheering me on, I completed the Chicago Marathon. That was 26.2 miles in four hours fifty minutes. I didn’t break any records or win any trophies, but my marathon training was the best drug, counselor, and spiritual journey I could ever ask for. Goal number twenty-six completed. Time magazine watch out.