Art by Liza Esquibias
People will never understand you. I was once one of “those people.”
At first, as a high school freshman, I was bitter that I wasn’t better at anything else, anything more fun.
But I liked winning. I thought I could control you and use you to my advantage. I ran as a means to an end — beat everyone else, win a medal, cushion my ego, maybe get a scholarship.
Then, you humbled me. An injury, a string of bad races. I recognized that we had to live in harmony for this to work. I could not continue an activity that I did not truly enjoy.
I reevaluated. Why was I here? Why did I get out the door every day and run aimlessly around the unremarkable streets of Stockton, Calif.?
Well, I enjoyed the camaraderie — jokes and laughs on easy runs with my teammates, high-fives between reps of intense workouts and the shared satisfaction of pushing our bodies to the limit.
I liked discovering new places, meeting new people and even being alone with my thoughts (occasionally).
I grew to appreciate you from your most basic level — anyone covering a few miles on foot — to the beauty and awe of your most elite level (see: Eliud Kipchoge running a marathon). You are the oldest and most accessible sport in the world for good reason — and I’ll never stop arguing that you’re entertaining, too.
Now, I appreciate your flaws. I respect how you can break me down and build me back up.
Through you, I’ve found myself. I’ve exited my comfort zone, experienced the highest highs and grown to explore and appreciate many places. All it takes is one run — solo or with friends — for me to get my head on straight again.
The relationship is still a work in progress, as I recognize that you are not the end-all, be-all of my life — just an important part of it. Some days, I’m only going through the motions, but other days make the difficult ones worth it.
It takes a special type of person to trudge hundreds of miles every month, to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays, to endure the summer heat and winter chill and to pursue glory in perhaps the least glorious sport in the world.
But I’m hooked. I’ll never be able to get away.
Forever and always,
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Contact Karl Winter via Twitter (@karlwinter23) or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org