Until recently, I have never had to explain to someone why I run.
What is it that motivates me to put my body through such strenuous work day after day, year after year? What drives me that I am willing to be completely vulnerable and give my heart to a dream? Why is it that I am willing to go to bed at 9 pm and wake up at 5:45 am each day to run no matter the weather?
“Why do you run?” Such a simple question, yet it carries so much weight for me. Before I can answer the question of why I run, I need to explain how I began running.
At the end of 6th grade, I asked my dad if I could try cross country the following fall instead of volleyball. I had no idea what cross country was. I had never gone on a run in my life. The first day of practice came and my coach had me run a mile. When I reached the mile mark, he curiously looked at me, checked my pulse, and told me to run another mile. The next day the high school team had their first meet in Glenwood City. I asked to tag along to watch because I had never seen a cross country race before. When we got to the course, my coach surprised me by asking if I brought my running shoes. Luckily, I did. An hour before the gun went off he told me that I’m running in the middle school race. I quickly called home and told my family that I’m going to race. My coach helped me warm up and brought me over to the starting line where he explained where I stand and what happens at the start of a race. I remember standing alone in my box looking down the line and seeing full teams next to me, and then looking out ahead at the course. The starter began to count down and I realized how much joy I felt within me. I was filled with excitement and uncertainty of what I was about to do. When the gun went off, I was out like a rabbit running as fast as I could for the next 1.5 miles. I remember being surprised when I only saw one boy running alongside me and no one in front of me. When we hit the first flag, I realized I had no idea there were flags in a race that determined which direction to go. Thankfully, the boy next to me knew what each color meant so I just followed him. As the race went on and my legs began to tire and my breathing quickened, I was not filled with fear of being overcome by another runner. Instead I felt adrenaline and pure joy surging through my body. I had never felt so invincible or powerful before. The course went through the woods for about a mile before coming back through an open field where spectators waited to see who was in the lead before the final 800 meters. My coach guessed I would be somewhere in the middle of the pack, but when we came out of the woods I was in second place behind one boy with a smile spread across my face. The final 800 meters my lungs were on fire. When I finished my first race as the champion, I felt such physical pain yet tremendous joy and exhilaration at the same time. I fell in love with the challenge and the potential to see just how far I could go.
In 7th grade I told my coach I wanted to be a state champion before graduating. In 8th grade, I told him I wanted to be an All-American. After becoming a 2x Wisconsin State Champion and an 8x All-American at the University of Minnesota Duluth, I told my high school coach I want to run professionally. Now I am running for Team USA Minnesota with the goal of making a US team. My dreams continue to grow not because I am some outstanding runner but because the God who created me empowers me to be bold in my faith and have faith in what seems impossible.
I run because of the challenges and joys.
There has never been anything that challenges me and tears me apart until I break yet uplifts me and brings me so much joy at the same time. Through the years of running, I have been heartbroken, angry, and fearful, yet I have also felt invincible, powerful, and free. There have been workouts that I have failed and workouts I have conquered. There have been moments of great confidence and instances of tremendous fear. The moments where I feel so alive and invincible are worth the moments of defeat and heartbreak.
I run because when I run, I feel God’s presence.
In the moments where I have felt like I cannot take one more step or pass one more girl, I have felt God giving me the strength needed. In the moments I have felt defeated, I have felt God’s grace and assurance that I am not done yet. When I have been too confident in myself or have been prideful, I have felt God’s humility and forgiveness. In the moments I have overcome, I have felt God’s victory and joy. Running has taught me so much about myself and about having faith in my God who is capable, powerful, personal, and unwavering.
I run because I believe through my running, I can share Christ with the world.
No matter what happens on the track, I want to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. At the end of my life, I want God to look at me and say “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. I do not run for my own glory, but rather to glorify God. I desire for people to see God in me when I run.
I run because I don’t want to wonder “what if”
The thought of what I am capable of is what helps me lace up my shoes each day and head out for another run or another workout. The “what if” motivates me to work hard every day although no one is watching. A lot of people do not understand the sport of running and even less people understand what a steeplechase is. I do not run for the minuscule amount of attention that may come. I run to see just how far my body can go.
I run because I love the feeling of overcoming an obstacle.
The greater the obstacle, the greater the feeling of accomplishment. There are physical obstacles such as workouts and races. There are also mental obstacles such as dealing with fears, doubts, insecurities, comparison, and other people’s views. To overcome any obstacle results in great joy and creates a hunger for more.
I run because I love inspiring others to chase their dreams no matter how big.
Running has given me the opportunity to share my passion with others. I have been able to mentor and motivate people of all ages to follow their dreams. I hope that through seeing me overcome and chase down my dreams, they will be brave enough to chase their own dreams.
I run because there is such freedom in racing.
The feeling I have when the gun goes off is unlike any other feeling. When the gun goes off, I feel as though I am soaring. I feel as though there are wings beneath my feet and a fire in my soul. With each person passed, the fire grows. I am completely captivated by racing.
I run because I can.
“I believe God made me for a purpose and he made me fast. When I run, I feel God’s pleasure” (Chariots of Fire)