For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an extremely competitive person. I played volleyball in high school, but when I got to college I needed a way to release all of that competitive energy. Throughout my freshman year I realized how much I missed it. I especially missed being on a team and forming close relationships with people who I shared an interest with. In high school I hated running. I’d walk by the track and think to myself “why would people ever do that?” But when I started sophomore year I knew I needed to do something, and I figured maybe one day I could learn to at least tolerate it. So I decided to try club cross country/track at Ohio State. I had no idea how this would change my life. I fell in love with running immediately, and with all the new friends I made as a result.
I decided to compete, even though I knew I’d be finishing in the back every race. It didn’t bother me because I loved being part of the competition, and I just got used to being really slow. But once we got into track season an amazing thing started happening. All the hard work had paid off and I started seeing results; I actually started improving. As the year went on I was no longer the one who everyone stood around and waited for at the finish line, I was becoming a respectable opponent. This just motivated me more and more to keep working hard and see what my body is capable of. I continued running cross country and track every season until I graduated, but I also decided I wanted to try running a marathon. I ran my first one beginning of my junior year, and I was really excited to run a 3:33:51. Since then I’ve run two more, and I’m currently training to run the Erie Marathon with my friend on September 9th! I like to say that running a marathon is an entirely different world of pain and suffering that simply can’t be explained, you just have to experience it for yourself. But similar to childbirth (or so I’m told), you seem to forget the pain you experienced because people still sign up for more. It’s not my favorite race though (I’m not insane), that’s a tie between the half marathon and the cross country 6k.
It’s always been very important to me to view school as a job, not a lifestyle. I work very hard and care about my studies, but there are a lot of other things in my life that I value more. I will always find time to run no matter how busy I am. I try to run around 40-50 miles per week, and do one long run on weekends (the length of these depend on what I’m training for, but now it’s anywhere from 12-20 miles because I’m training for a marathon). Since starting dental school I’ve still been running cross country and track with Pitt’s club team, and I plan to continue that all 4 years. Running makes me feel better, look better, think more clearly, relieve stress, improves my mental health, and so much more. It’s also given me a great group of friends outside of dental school. I want to encourage everyone to give it a try, I never thought I would like it either but now it’s hard for me to imagine not being a runner. My advice: allow yourself to hate it for awhile. Be patient and give it a chance, it takes some time for it to not suck but eventually you’ll actually start to enjoy it. Watch out, because before you know it, you may be just as addicted as I am.