I believe in always trying your hardest, no matter what. “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” These words were spoken by one of America’s greatest distance runners, Steve Prefontaine, more than thirty years ago. “Pre” was the best at what he did, pushing his body to a level of physical discomfort not many can endure, and winning races on nothing but stubbornness and guts. He was known to say that talent did not exist and that hard work was the only way to succeed and be the best. Pre’s attitude inspired many others on and off the track, including myself.
Throughout my career as a student and runner alike, I have learned to agree with Pre’s aspirations. The story of his success caught my eye early on and his beliefs have aided me in my schoolwork and running. I know that hard work and “going the extra mile” are the keys to success. Over my years as a student, I have learned that sometimes the work done in school is not enough to receive an “A” and that staying after school to get a greater understanding is necessary to be one of the best.
As I went through the years as a high school student, running started to become a more prominent part of my life. Even as a scrawny freshman to an improving sophomore to the number one runner as a junior, I was always looking forward to senior year. I had many goals I intended to fulfill in my final year as a high school runner. But just as it does to so many serious runners, injury was nipping at my heels. Having a nagging injury with only a month left in the season was not what I had in mind for my senior year.
After all the hard work and hundreds of miles I had put in over the summer, I was not going to let my season end without a fight. The only way I would not lose the fitness I had so long desired, was to get in the pool every day and aqua jog. Sometimes the pool was not open after school and I had to wake up as early as 5:30 a.m., a sacrifice I was gladly willing to make to save my season. For the next couple of weeks I had to be mentally tough to get through the pool workouts I was doing everyday. When I didn’t want to do another workout I reminded myself that everyday I didn’t train I added seconds to my race time which could ultimately be the difference between a top ten and a 50th placing.
While I was injured, I kept on looking into the future, past the injury. Although the injury had been a setback in my running career, it has positively influenced me. I have realized that running is not all life has to offer and that doing well in other areas, such as school, can have the same feeling of accomplishment as does winning a race. “You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”