“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
— George Sheehan
“Why do you run?” As a track athlete, speaking personally, I can tell you that I hate being asked this question. It does feel a little belittling because when someone poses this question, what I feel they’re really saying is, “Running is really exhausting and hard and not even a sport, track athletes hardly get paid; why do you do it?” Some people are genuine. I am not entirely sure if everyone is trying to be an arse to the idea, but most of the time, the question is arrogant as it stems from a perspective with absolutely no basis and they’re mostly making fun of you. With that being said, by putting myself in the shoes of an “outsider” to the sport, I can come around to understand why they might feel this way or have this approach. They don’t know what this sport has to offer, and it’s a hell of a lot more than just running fast and turning left. When the question is posed, I put on a little smirk, give the person a kind glance, and I reply in the words of my former high school coach Rick Schroeder, “Because if it were easy, everyone would do it.”
It is comically true. If running were easy, we’d all be walking around with 6-pack abs and strong legs… or just looking like an absurdly large bundle of thin sticks. Yes, sure, we run track because we like to stay healthy and fit, both physically and mentally; that is the foundation. But the sport is much bigger than that. Just like any athletic endeavour, it is much bigger than ourselves. Although this may be the case, I am not going to sit here and say that “I loved running ever since I tied my first pair of running shoes…”; that would be a fat lie, and quite frankly, it’s a tacky common line and anyone who says it is full of shit and is trying to make things more substantial than they need to be. Track isn’t a glamorous sport in the beginning, and I only ever initially enjoyed it because I was naturally talented. But I have always said, running is challenging to get into, and even harder to become exceptional at, and further maintain your fitness, but once you’re into it, it is a part of you for the rest of your life. The windows of opportunity the sport opens are endless, and the lessons that come along with it are endless.
Track and Field may be competed as an individual, but the camaraderie of a team make grueling workouts and high amounts of kilometers through the weeks tolerable. The accountability of a coach and teammates allowed me to push to limitations that I couldn’t have alone. The objectivity of racing taught me more about myself than any other sport. This incredible sport introduced me to some of my best friends and has given me a career thus far to help other runners like me accomplish their biggest fitness goals. Track and Field allowed me to travel across the country to British Columbia to attend university and be mostly paid for by an athletic scholarship. Track and Field have allowed me to travel all over North America to places I have never been, including San Diego, L.A, Seattle, Boston, Oregon and Florida, all over Ontario and Quebec. Hopefully, one day internationally. This sport allows me to focus so much on injury prevention, good nutrition, and getting support when you need it. It’s why you train strategically – rather than exercise mindlessly. Running track isn’t about finishing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, or beating the guy to your right or left; it’s all about helping you become bigger, faster, and stronger. To experience things in life you have never even thought of. To push yourself physically and mentally and become not only a better athlete but a better person. To deal with your problems. To overcome your mistakes. To overcome your deepest fears. To overcome your challenges. To overcome your setbacks and failures. Track and Field is a series of lessons that will stay with you for the remainder of your life.