Running is about more than competiton

Faith Moldan

Faith Moldan

In high school, I was never what you would call a jock. In fact, I was barely even an athlete, but I was and still am a sports enthusiast. I quit all of the sports teams that I joined after realizing my lack of athletic prowess and my inability to compete at a higher level.

For the remainder of my high school days, a scorebook could be found in my hand as I was a statistician for three of my high school teams. As I sat there watching game after game, a little part of me was jealous of the athletes’ skills, and often times grace on the field or court. “Why couldn’t I be that good?” I asked myself. This is where I fell into a rut.

I began to have a bit of disdain for some athletes. Most of it was centered on my high school cross-country team.

Cross-country was never a sport that I truly understood. To me, there seemed to be no real competition, no excitement. Why in the world were these people running miles upon miles, and liking it?

This trend followed me to SDSU. I loved to watch and cover sports like football and basketball. Sports in which there is suspense and action, a hero or a standout in every game.

Yes, SDSU has some standout runners that compete on the cross-country and track teams, but even with their record breaking and continuous success, I found no joy in what they did. It was probably because I did not enjoy running in the least bit. I’d rather walk.

That all changed last spring. A good friend of mine was on her high school’s cross-country team. Hearing her stories and having a desire to get into shape, I decided to go for a run with her one beautiful April day.

The pain that was shooting through my legs after our run that morning made the climb up to my room on the third floor difficult. The pain the next day was even worse, as all my joints and muscles, especially my ankle, were throbbing and aching. But yet through all the pain, I found myself with a desire to go for a run again.

After my ankle healed, and an injury to my leg from playing in a summer softball league did too, I found myself running in the wide-open spaces of western South Dakota and loving it. It was then that I finally understood why people run in the first place, why they like it. They run not because they’re good at it, although that helps, but because there’s a sort of calmness that one gets from an early morning run.

I spent this past weekend at home in Minnesota. Unable to fall back asleep early on Sunday morning, I laced up my tennis shoes and headed out to clear my mind and stretch my muscles. As my feet hit the gravel road that winds around an edge of the lake in my hometown, I saw geese landing on the water through the fog that hung above it. I slowed to a walk to take in the scenery. I was not in competition with anyone. I could run at my own pace, not worry about breaking any records or winning any prize.

It seems odd to me that I, the girl who dreaded running the mile in gym class, am now scheduling time to go for a run. I enjoy taking a half an hour or more a couple times a week to hit the pavement.

In no way do I think that this makes me a jock or an athlete. And I don’t have any plans of doing something silly, at least in my mind, like entering a marathon. I guess I have realized, though, that sports aren’t always about winning or competition. Sometimes they just become a part of you, despite a lack of talent and skill.