Bigger than me

Self motivation is hard, especially on the run

Ally Pruente

My toes were frozen. The cold air snuck its way into my lungs every step I took. My watch hung loosely on my wrist and was soaking wet with what could’ve been sweat or raindrops. The sun was shielded by large gray clouds, with no intention other than to ruin my afternoon. Every breath became heavier, and I couldn’t help but gasp for air as I turned the corner. 

200 meters… 100 meters… 50… done. I hunched over and inhaled bigger than I ever had before. I let the rain dump onto me as I contemplated, why do I like to do this?

Ever since the age of eight or nine I’ve been constantly on the run, and that’s quite literally the truth. In elementary through middle school, I raced 5k “fun runs” with my dad every chance we got. That feeling was unlike any other. Running gave me a strong connection with my dad and introduced a new world of people. On the occasional weekend we didn’t have our own race, my dad would wake me before the sun. We would drive, park and wait. Wait to see runners just like me and cheer them on. It felt so good to see people pushing themselves and reaching their goals. I wanted to be just like them. 

In seventh grade, running became competitive. Joining the middle school cross country team boosted my confidence to a new extreme. I made friends and met good coaches. I felt good about myself and about my running. It slowly became a major part of me and I didn’t even know it. 

Middle school led to high school and high school led to a new level of running. I started to get injured and trained harder than I was used to. The confidence boost was gone. I was truly relying on self motivation. 

My love for running took a decline. The relationship with my teammates and with myself became focused on the win rather than the joy. I began to realize that I wasn’t running for anyone but myself. I was so worried about my time, place and my record. I could feel all my hard work and motivation slipping away. I couldn’t tell if it was time to move on and put my running days behind me. The right answer for me was blurred. I thought of that little girl I used to be, cheering for a stranger who ran simply because they loved it.

Over the past two years, I’ve slowly rebuilt my enjoyment for running. I had forgotten why this was all important to me in the first place. Most runners run for something bigger than themselves. And I knew that to move away from my slump and get myself back on the run, I had to remember back to when I ran just because it made me happy. 

Every now and then a day comes along that breaks my stride. A day where the rain won’t stop pouring. A day when the same world that pushed me along yesterday, turns its back. If running for all my life has taught me anything, it’s the importance of moving past the bad moments life brings. The key to moving forward is true, selfless motivation. 

I remember those strangers I cheered for, who weren’t really strangers at all. I remember running with my dad and feeling proud of doing something that truly made me push myself. I remember the bonds formed and amazing individuals running introduced me to. That is what keeps me going. I now will forever remember to run for something bigger.