just-keep-runningRunning taught me the valuable lesson of self-dependency.

To me, running is more than just a physical activity. Running is a time where I can be alone against the track, against myself. It’s a sport that involves no one else but me.

While it’s accepted practice to race against other runners, the sport only pertains to the individual’s ability to get from one point to another. The runner must combat their mind and use their strength to continue on a path built from self-determination.

As a runner, I learned the value of running in the moment, listening to my body as I ran, and responding accordingly. I ran with the intention of getting stronger down the road, and I learned to face the moment and just run as best I could. I learned that in time I would progress, and eventually become a better runner.

As a runner, I learned to run at all times of the night and day. Even with the varying weather, the idea that went through my head stayed the same, “Just keep running.”

I love running because while running I only think the moment. I focus on my balance and make sure my body’s systems perform correctly. Blood pumps through my veins, I breathe deeply, driving air into my lungs and pumping oxygen into my muscles. My muscles flex and lift me from the ground, propelling me forward.

My body suspends in the air. I’m flying.

My heels catch my stride. My toes slap the concrete and I pull myself into the next step. I roll onto the balls of my feet and explode with energy, propelling myself forward again on an repeating cycle until I cross the finish line.

Then I do it all again.

As a runner, I learned the value of the runner’s mentality. I learned to recite mantras in my mind, like “just keep going” and “can I do it now?” The runner mentality is essential to my life now. Having a can-do mentality helps me get over obstacles in my life that would otherwise be difficult.

I often ask myself the question “can I do it now” while running. I would be well into my run, exhausted, and then I would ask myself “Can I do it now?” “Can I sprint now?” “Can I continue to run now?” The answer would usually warrant an enthusiastic, “Yes I can.” I would get a jolt of energy and continue to push forward despite my exhaustion, because I knew I wasn’t quite out of energy yet, and at the end of my run I would feel a great sense of accomplishment. After the first time, it gets easier and easier to say, “Yes I can,” and harder to say “No.”

Running changed the way I think about pushing myself to be a better person. As I kept running, I got better. I earned more conviction. I continued compiling new mantras on top of the old ones.

The runner’s mentality is about pushing forward and being relentless about achieving goals no matter how much farther is left. The runner’s mentality encourages progress, continuing to move along what seems like an endless strip of pavement, because the process is just as important as the finish line.

Since learning the runner’s mentality, I’ve taken what I’ve learned into other aspects of my life. I ask myself, “Can I live my life now?”