Every day, I walk into school with two bags. One is my green hippy-looking school bag, and the other is my white monogrammed Under Armour backpack. At 2:38 pm, I retrieve my Under Armour backpack with my clothes and shoes from my homeroom (which, by the way, is way more convenient than a locker). It is winter now, so I change into my gloves and hat to accompany my favorite New Balance shoes. After socializing for 10 or so minutes, I walk over to Quinn Field to meet the track team. It’s 3:15 pm. Practice has begun.
The bleachers are covered with sprinters and distance runners living in harmony – bonded by their shared concerns over possible plantar fasciitis or shin splints. We hype each other up by brooding over the possibility of hill repeats or a tempo run. On Mondays, a tempo run is almost always guaranteed. Wednesdays tend to be for hill workouts. Other days are just regular distance runs or recovery runs. Today is a Monday.
My teammates Sam and Pandelis warm up with me for a 12-minute jog, followed by another 15 minutes of dynamic stretching and build-up strides. We check in with Coach Dunham and set off for a two-mile run off of 27th Street to Chevy Chase Circle. When we return to St. John’s, we begin a 25-minute tempo run. A tempo pace is one where we cannot talk comfortably, but cannot breathe too heavily either. It is not race pace. It is a fast, controlled effort for a period of time. We grab our watches and start timing our tempo run.
The first 10 minutes are annoying and honestly boring. But after that, the run becomes bearable and I get used to the pace. A tempo run just takes patience and endurance. It is not hard, but it is challenging mentally because you just want it to end. Because it is winter now, the last five minutes of my tempo run are backdropped by a beautiful sunset creating a spectacular glow on Rock Creek Park. I press my watch and end my run. It is finally over. Time for a cool down, stretches, and core work.
Every day, running poses a new challenge to me, mentally and physically. It has made me a much stronger and determined person, as every workout is an opportunity to grow. My Monday tempo run is just one of many different running workouts I have been doing since my freshman year to race to the best of my ability on the track. Running doesn’t require a field or a court; it simply requires physical ability and the will to embrace one’s natural stride.
Every day, I look forward to 2:38 pm. Not because school is over, but because track begins. Teamwork. Hard work. Grit. That is a day in the life of a runner.