By SUSANNAH TOMBES
I wake up with the sun as the rest of campus is still in deep sleep, breathing heavily under soft comforters. Thoughts about hiding under my own covers invade my mind and I know that the battle has begun. I get up. I’m getting dressed and I have to remind myself that the only runs I have regretted are the ones that I never went on. Slipping on my shoes, I make my way out of my dorm and move into a jog until I find my pace.
Running has always been an important aspect of my life, but when I came to college it became even more prominent. I remember this past fall most vividly when I trained for the Richmond Half Marathon. It was a difficult semester for several reasons. Mostly due to an increase in anxiety and unnecessary pressure that I placed on myself. Even though I was experiencing uncomfortable emotions, I knew that I had running. I had a purpose; something to work at day after day with the hopeful reminder that victory always comes after pain.
As academic and club commitments wore me down, adding in extra time to train for running 13.1 miles did not seem logical to my friends who lovingly suggested that I rest my mind and body.
The secret though, is that running did rest my mind. It allowed me to see the strength of my heart and mind, especially when I did not see that strength. It gave me time to think and be present, two things that I struggled with in classes and even with friends at certain times. Even though training caused the trajectory of my body to be challenged and forced me to stretch muscles in my heart and mind that I did not know existed.
Over the past few years as my running has increased, my family and friends have begun to question my sanity. Honestly, I do too sometimes.
But, however insane running appears to others, it is the one thing that keeps me calm.
Running forces my feet forward. Stride after stride until the strides turn into miles. It has turned me from a shy and timid girl, into a strong and fearless woman.