Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Outside the classroom

There’s always something that gets you up in the morning and gets you through the next problem set. For me, that’s the feel of the streets of Philadelphia under my feet. 

I never thought I would be a runner, but now planning out my weekly mileage is just another Sunday night habit. After playing competitive, travel volleyball in high school for a few years, my parents decided that it might be time for me to try something different. So, I signed up for my first half-marathon November of my junior year of high school. I started out running my painful first mile straight and gradually added less walking and more running until I reached a steady six miles a day and the ability to complete a long run of ten plus miles once a week. I develop my own training plans for each race always tweaking them with the latest trends in running—more hills, less speed, longer daily runs, twice daily runs, and everything in between. I’ve ran in a half-marathon every year since then and truly enjoy the race day atmosphere. 

I don’t run to win the races—trust me I’m nowhere near a record breaking pace. I run because it makes me happy. It’s a break from the stress of school, the business of my Google calendar, and Penn’s campus (as much as I love it). Doing the same thing for an hour almost every day gives you a chance to think about anything and everything that comes to your mind because honestly, what else are you going to do while repeating the same movement over and over again. I’ve thought of the best project ideas and the tastiest meals while running. It’s more than thinking though, running also gives you a chance to process what is happening in life which we often don’t do when there are other commitments that fill your day. 

Running also lets me explore areas that I normally wouldn’t find. I’ve been able to discover the cutest streets in Philly (Delancy and Spruce past 8th), the secret alleyways (in between Spruce and Walnut along with my personal favorite in Old City), and my favorite spot in Philly (Race Street Pier). I keep adding to the list of restaurants (Mercato, Franklin’s Fountain, Morgan’s Pier) and places to visit in the city (farmers’ markets, Washington Square, Dock Street) all while getting to know the city a little better. Not only have I been able to explore the cities I live in through running, I also love running in new cities and especially when I travel. There’s nothing that quite beats running through the woods in Czech Republic to find a field of flowers in the middle of nowhere or running on the beach in Antigua before the tide comes in. It’s these experiences and opportunities that get me up in the morning—the opportunity to learn more about the world and myself. Running has become part of who I am and continues to motivate me to go just one more mile (or one more midterm) by developing my mental and physical strength

"The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am." --George Sheehan, M.D.,

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