Today’s post is a part of my ongoing Mile Markers feature. The purpose of this (almost) weekly feature is to recount the memorable and meaningful runs and races that serve as signposts on our running journey. If you have a story of your own to tell, you can find the writer’s guidelines and my contact information on the Mile Markers page.
Let’s be honest with each other: I am a classic overachiever, and I don’t apologize for it. I love working towards excellence in all that I do. As you can imagine, I have been an overachiever my entire life, and this was the cause for much contempt felt toward me by the upperclassmen in my sophomore gym class in high school.
First, the back story. The summer before my sophomore year of high school I had spent nearly every day in a horse barn for a 4-H project grooming horses, riding horses, and cleaning their stalls. And wouldn’t you know, all that physical activity jump started my metabolism and melted off the baby fat I had been carrying around on my adolescent body, and I dropped a few pant sizes. It did wonders for my sixteen-year-old ego. The fall of my sophomore year of high school I played provisionally on the varsity tennis team in the fall (which means I played half varsity matches and half JV matches). In the winter, we started weight lifting in gym class, and I took an instant liking to it. I found it empowering, and I enjoyed the prospect of improving my fitness for playing varsity tennis the following fall.
But on one particularly beautiful spring day, my gym teacher Coach Adams sent the class out to the track for some interval running. I’m sure you’re familiar with the walk-the-curves-run-the-straightaways breed of gym class running, right? Interval training at its finest. 🙂 Coach told us to do one mile. So I ran the first straightaway, felt fine, and decided to run the next curve. I still felt fine and finished running the lap. And then I ran another lap. And another and another. Until I had run one mile. At this point, my classmates on the track with me were already casting snarky remarks my way, but honestly, I wasn’t running to make them look bad. I think for the first time in my life all the pieces of a good run fell into place, and I found a little running high. So I ran four more laps. Two. Whole. Miles.
I could not believe it, and I was so so so proud of myself. That day, that run, is one of the days, one of the runs, that catapulted me onto a path to study athletic training, physical fitness, and nutrition. While I took a detour and studied writing in college and graduate school — a choice I do not regret — I still firmly believe that some of these early successful runs (and workouts and tennis matches) when I was a teenager set a foundation of health and fitness and strong body image that I hold on to today.
That’s the story of my first non-stop mile-run. Do you remember one of your early instances of a runner’s high? Tell me about it in the comments!