This Is Why I Run

Francesco Gallarotti
Francesco Gallarotti

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “Why do you run?” or another common variation of the question, “How do you do it?” When I hear questions like this, I can’t help but smile to myself. I think a lot of people believe running is one of the hardest things in the world. Many can’t imagine how I go on a three, four mile run and how I get through it. But to me, running has been one of the consistently easiest things in the world.

I remember my first run like it was yesterday. I decided to go out for the cross country team and I was at try-outs. My then-coach shouted “And….GO!” I started out slow, one foot in front of the other. I didn’t realize my speed then. By the time I was halfway done, I began to speed up. I was passing people one by one until I was at the front. How did I get here?

Running came naturally to me, and before I knew it, I was coming in first for my school at all of the meets, sometimes even winning first place overall. I had never really been good at anything in my life before, so I took in each race and treasured each win. I was happy I enjoyed something that many people look at as really tough. It made me feel strong. And I loved winning.

Sure enough, high school came along, and even with the longer distance, I exceled. What really helped me to succeed was my mentality. That’s all running really is. It’s a little bit of conditioning and the rest is mental. I didn’t think about the race, or how far I was into the race, I simply ran. That’s it. And that’s how I succeeded.

The finish line was always my favorite part. The cheering, the finish line in the distance, and the clock always carried my legs faster than I could ever imagine. The last minute of the race was the best feeling in the world. To this day, I’ve never had adrenaline rushes that compare to the rushes I got in my races.

As the years went on, it was clear I wasn’t enjoying running anymore. I ran because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to. The races began to give me so much anxiety it would be hard to sleep the night before. My mentality would mess with me in races and I wouldn’t push myself as hard as I could go. It crushed me to feel defeated. But I still ran.

The end of my competitive running career did not commence the way I was hoping. My races averaged a minute and a half slower compared to my freshman and sophomore year races. I didn’t look at running the same way. It didn’t give me the endorphins it used to. I chose not to run in college, which came as a disappointment to many. But truly, I felt relieved.

Through college, I barely talked about my running career. I was disappointed in how it ended for me and how I couldn’t enjoy a simple three mile run anymore. I didn’t run one race, and I never really ran around the city.

Nearly five years after finishing my competitive running career, I decided it was time for me to change my mindset. Running has been a part of my life for over ten years, and it was time for me to love it again. But it would be for a new reason.

After graduating college, I picked up running again. Regularly. What I’ve always appreciated about running is how effortless it feels to me. No matter how rusty I am. It’s such a familiar feeling.

When I run now, it’s like old times. I don’t think. I just enjoy my surroundings and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It feels good. It feels even better knowing that I can put my past behind me and appreciate the sport that pushed me and continues to push me mentally and physically.

Why I ran in high school and middle school is completely different from why I run now. I run now not because I have to, but because I want to. It feels easy. It calms me when life throws its twists and turns. It’s one of the few constants I have in life, and I’m grateful for it.

So while some may laugh or seriously question how I can run, I think back to all of the amazing memories running has given me over my lifetime and all of the accomplishments I’ve celebrated—whether it be winning a 5k or motivating myself to go on a five mile run. I run because it’s given me more than I could ever imagine. TC mark

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