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This I Believe: I Believe In Running

Essayist Alysa Rubin

I believe in running.

If you asked me how I felt about running five years ago, I would have laughed at you. My feelings about running? Pure, undeniable disgust. Coupled with my asthma and general lack of motivation, I considered running as one of my worst enemies.

When I was younger, I always dreaded the days in gym class when the teacher announced that we would be running the mile. I would drag myself to the starting line, a little behind everyone else, and wait for the whistle to blow. After the whistle blew, I started off in step with my classmates, but felt an all too familiar pit in my stomach as my classmates pulled ahead. My lungs began to burn, and my legs felt like they’d give out any minute. My breath would hitch in my chest as I slowed to a walk, shamefully looking up to see my classmates run past. My mind would race, and I’d constantly berate myself for walking. Why can’t I just run like everyone else? I’d ask. My lungs wouldn’t allow it, and I felt like they held me back. If I can’t even run a mile, can I even do anything right?

Having those experiences, I decided it would be best to avoid running at all costs. If I went to the gym, I would avoid any piece of equipment that had the word “cardio” attached. I avoided sprints at practices for “bathroom breaks.” I took gym classes that involved little to no running, such as yoga. My efforts to avoid running succeeded, and I began to come to terms with the thoughts I had.

Years later, I impulsively decided to run a 5k. When I faced the course, I felt the same pit in my stomach. I remember asking myself, what am I doing? The whistle blew, and off I went. After a while, I felt the burning in my chest, and my heart sank. But something strange happened. Instead of allowing my thoughts to overtake me, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other, and I let myself get caught up in the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground. Surprisingly enough, my lungs were able to find a beat with my feet, and I ended up running the entire race without stopping to walk.

After the race ended, I sat down in shock. How was it possible that I could run an entire 5k? In years previous, I couldn’t even walk a mile.

In hindsight, I realize that it was my willpower that got me through the race. Even though my chest burned, and my legs felt like they would give out at any moment, my mind refused to give up. My determination is what got me across the finish line, and ironically enough, I now know that I can’t run away from my problems.

I believe in running.

Alysa Rubin is freshman majoring in photojournalism.

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