Running is and was everything to me.
Running has taught me so many lessons that no one else can teach me.
Running made me feel strong when I felt like I was at my worst.
Running gave me the courage to go for my craziest dreams.
Running helped me figure out what I was going to do with my life.
I have so many stories from my running career. That time Janelle and I almost missed the bus at our first out of state cross country meet..or that time we thought a cat was following us to our hotel room when it turned out to be a skunk.
This story is one of my favorites.
My freshman year cross country season was one of my best. I thought I was doing everything right, I thought I knew everything there was about running. I was running the best times in my life, beating my sister (sorry Janelle) and I was the number one girl on my team. I had it all.
It was our team dinner the night before we were going to leave for our conference meet. My coach thought of this idea to have giant pieces of paper with all of our names on them and have each other write something encouraging on it.
You know the usual stuff..
“Girl you’re so fast, go out there and kill it this weekend!”
“Make us proud!”
“Go out there and get to nationals!”
All of these encouraging words made me feel better than I already was.
Then I saw it, in the bottom corner of my paper..
“You’re a fast runner but you need more heart.”
I was pissed.
So incredibly pissed.
Someone vandalized my paper with this ridiculous claim that I had no heart.
It haunted me, it was all I could think about during the 4 hour drive to Seattle the next day.
I have heart! I love running! I love my family! How dare someone say that I didn’t have heart!
It was anonymous too. No one would claim responsibility for this insanity.
I looked around at all of my teammates furious at the thought that it could be any one of them. Instead of trying to understand the message I spent the entire bus ride wondering who would insult me like that.
It didn’t hit me like some things do.
It took quite a bit of internal dialogue to solve this one.
I started thinking of my favorite race in high school when I won the 3000 at my district meet. The feeling of pure joy that I felt at that very moment.
I started thinking of my awesome teammates that I missed so much.
I started thinking about my parents and how they spent the night driving to Seattle just to watch me run, and all of the time and money they put into me chasing my dream.
The joy I feel while running, my friends, my family, those were some of the reasons I ran.
Those were the reasons that I got up early in the morning to run ten miles, the reasons I pushed myself in races even though I felt like death.
Those things filled my heart and helped push me.
I was supposed to run for those things, I was supposed to take those things and let them fuel the fire inside of me and push me to go further.
I have told so many of my athletes to “run with heart.”
I know that it’s reached one person in specifically.
She draws a heart on her hand between her index finger and thumb, exactly where I use to draw mine.
Sophomore year at Western I was in a slump in running, I didn’t have the fire like I use to. I remember on the way back from a meet my anonymous piece of advice and I knew what I was missing.
I was forgetting those things I loved. The people that helped me with my dreams, the feeling I got after a huge PR, the goals I had as a twelve year old deciding to run track for the first time.
I took out a sharpie and drew that heart on my hand, right where I could see it. That way whenever I needed to I could look down and remind myself to remember why I do it.
Remember everything that running has put into my heart and use that to push myself towards what I wanted.
That could be said about so many things though, not just running.
Work can get so incredibly draining, and you could feel like quitting..but how hard did you work to get that job? How hard did you study in school? You earned that. Go to work every day with that drive you had when you were applying for jobs left and right.
School can get tough, especially at the end of the year. It’s hard to find any motivation to even go to class. But did you seriously waste so many years of waking up before the sun came up to quit? All of those sleepless nights working on never ending homework assignments just to stop trying and float by through the end of the year?
Life gets tough. We all have those days where all we want to do is sleep and forget about whatever might be troubling us at that moment in time. But we can’t. We can’t sit there and just skate through life not making the best out of every day. We have to put passion in everything, because you get what you put into things. We can’t stop trying because we feel bad. We have to remember every moment like this in the past and how we battled through it stronger than the first time.
We have to have heart.
We have to remember why we started.
Who pushed us to do more.
Who gave us what we needed to go for our dreams.
We have to remember what we wanted growing up.
Everything that you have.
Everything saved up stays in your heart, and you use it to go for the unknown. You use it to fuel your fire.
So give everything that you do in life heart. Never just give anything you do in life the bare minimum, you’re selling yourself short.
Instead, do great things.
Push till you can’t anymore and dream those dreams that seem out of this world.
Live with purpose.
Love with passion.
Run with heart.