RALEIGH, N.C - Meredith College cross country sophomore Illa Jones contributes her second installment in a regular blog series this fall to give fans a unique perspective into life as an Avenging Angel.
It is early mornings and peanut butter.
It's slipping on ice and sweating to death.
It's feeling like you can't breathe and wishing your legs would fall off.
It's sticking it out on the treadmill and pushing through bad runs.
There is no off-season, no one to cheer you on at 5:00 a.m, and no cure for your hunger.
When it comes down to it, running is whatever you want it to be, whatever you need to be, and whatever you have in you."
-- author unknown
I read this online somewhere and fell in love with it.
I have played many sports in my life and never thought that I would end up as a runner. Honestly, I thought runners were just really weird. I mean who would run laps to just to get right back where you start for fun??
I ended up joining my team in high school my junior year just to stay in shape for soccer, and I was instantly addicted. To what though? I don't know because all that is included in the above passage is completely true.
I know that for me, running is a constant in my life that I feel I must take part in every day. When one recruiter once asked me why I chose to continue this sport out of the other six I did in high school, I told him, "Running is different from all other sports. Running is a life style."
Running consumes my whole being, which is what I never understood about runners before. I have to constantly make sure I'm hydrated. I must get enough sleep and eat right in order to run well. This was very different from my other sports where I could treat my body how I wanted, and the result was still okay.
I also learn a lot about myself when I'm running. I learn how far I can really push myself when there's no immediate prize. I'm not sprinting to attack a soccer ball or dashing across the court to pass the volleyball. I'm literally just testing my limits for 20 minutes straight; constantly telling myself to just push for 200 more meters.
If a practice or course seems too daunting, I tell myself to just make it through this next hill or around this next lap. I now carry this mentality into every aspect of my life, which I never did with any other sport.
When I have a seemingly endless amount of homework I remind myself to just get through the task ahead of me. I tell myself "just write this first paper and then you can deal with the rest." Or when anything in life becomes too stressful I remind myself to deal with what is right in front of me for the moment and then evaluate later, just like what I do during races or workouts.
A very important mantra that I have gained during this sport is telling myself during a race that no matter how bad it hurts, I will only regret giving up. I will never thank myself. I tell myself this too when I feel like giving up on a difficult task because I know that I will not thank myself for giving any less effort.
So tomorrow morning when I'm running up and down those dreadful hills at Umstead Park, I'll remember that this is the part I love about this sport. Although in that very moment when my muscles are on fire and I can feel my heart pounding in my head, it does not compare to the feeling of accomplishing that challenge that was set before me.