This I Believe

Rugile - LaGrange, Illinois
Entered on February 23, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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“This I Believe”

I believe that running is the greatest metaphor for life. Running never takes more than it gives back. It’s a question of your commitment, and it asks every day. And to be honest, I love every wonderful, horrible minute of it. Whether I’m roaming the darkened streets before daybreak, exhausted and sweat-drenched, or even sprinting my leg of the mile relay, I am humbled by running.

When I was younger, I never paid much attention to running and it took me awhile to realize that it was something I was good at and enjoyed. All of my focus was put forth on one sport: hockey. I was committed to it and so was my family. From the five in the morning practices, the long drives to Canada for tournaments or even to my backyard rink made entirely of water frozen on a tarp in the middle of January, I was dedicated. But there comes a time where we cannot continue to do the things we once enjoyed. It was the last period of the last game of my season and my team was winning by three goals. I went to the boards to get the puck and was slammed into them by a towering opponent. I didn’t know it at first, but the pain that I was feeling was that of a dislocated shoulder. I had to stop. I had to stop playing and find something that satisfied my competitive edge and provided me with a sense of well-being. That’s where running came in.

Like running, life has taught me to keep pushing forward, even if you do hit that wall. I went through it. I am now a runner. I’m the one that’s out there Sunday morning while others are still sleeping. Out of habit, I double-knot my shoes. I reward long runs with short runs and short runs with long runs. There have been times where I questioned myself. I’ve played mind games and made excuses to keep on going. I’ve listened to my coach, my teammates, my music, and my breathing. I have gone through shin splints, stress fractures, and put my heart before my knees. It’s elevating and humbling at the same time. When in the morning the air is still and every breath reminds you exactly how hard your body works. When on occasion you come across that deer when running in the woods that does not run away as you pass by. Or maybe when you’re running the day after a snowstorm and there are no other footprints in the snow, you realize the vastness of creation and how tiny you actually are in comparison to the whole world. With running, like life, you get out of it what you put in.