Dear 7th Grade Self,
If you think running is bad now, just wait. It gets worse. Your legs are gonna hurt, your muscles will feel dead when lying in bed, and you will be disappointed with your races more times than not. You’ll be beaten time and time again. Over the years, there will be close seconds. There will be complete blowups. There will be times when you wonder to yourself if running is worth it. Times when you question whether or not what you’re doing is worth the late nights at meets or missing the after school bus because you had to run that extra mile. You will probably never be the fastest.
There will be times when you get to the line and your heart will feel like it’s in your throat. Your chest will burn. Your arms won’t stop twitching. Your hands won’t stop sweating. You’ll overthink every move, questioning yourself with every step. You’ll fall toward the back as you dread crossing the finish line. Frustration will boil over when you don’t understand what went wrong. You will probably never be the fastest.
There will be times when you’re going to question your self-worth. You’re going to think “If I’m not the best at running, then what am I doing?” You’ll lose sleep over it. You’ll lay in bed replaying races you lost, contemplating every second in slow motion, wishing you could do it over. Your heart will pound at the thought of racing. Self-doubt will slowly creep into everything you do while your steps get heavier, your gaze shifts downward and your smile gets smaller. You will probably never be the fastest.
You will probably never be the fastest… but don't give up. Every mile will count. You’ll run faster in high school. You’ll challenge old school records. You’ll fight for every place. You’ll show the doubters that you can pave your own way. You will learn to be a leader, to set an example for those around you. You’ll leave your mark.
You will probably never be the fastest… but don’t give up. You’ll run even faster at the college level. Running will ground you. It will be your rock. Lots of things will be different, but running will keep you sane. You’ll learn to cope with the stress. Learn to deal with the ever changing landscape of your life. Running will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible.
You will probably never be the fastest… but don’t give up. You’ll meet new people through running. People who will become your family. They’ll be there for you when you’re down. To pick you up when you’re at your lowest and to raise you up when all seems lost. Running will teach you that you don’t need to do everything alone. That maybe there’s much more to it than just winning. That finding happiness in the small accomplishments can mean the world.
Running is hard. It hurts, and it’s not easy. But over time it will become a part of your identity. It will be something that can never be taken away. Maybe you’ll never be the fastest. But that’s ok.
a Future Runner
Cornell University '18