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Holly McCamant: How running has changed my life

Over the years, I’ve tried many different sports. Before I started elementary school, I did gymnastics and figure skating. However, that sport didn’t stick, and by the time I was in third grade I was playing hockey.

I really enjoyed playing hockey. There’s just something about playing the game that is really fun, even if you aren’t that good. Hockey was taking up most of my time, though, and I knew I couldn’t keep on playing and stay in the Frazee school district. I stopped doing it in sixth grade, and even though I love hockey, I’ve never regretted that decision.

Part of my not regretting hockey might have do with the fact that I tried running cross-country my seventh grade year. I knew that I probably should be in a sport, and since sports that require coordination are really challenging to me, I decided to join cross-country. My dad is a runner, so that also encouraged me. Even though I was really slow, had no endurance whatsoever, and thought it was a big accomplishment to run two miles without walking, I still had a lot of fun. I made a lot of friends just from being on the cross-country team.

By the time track rolled around, people were bugging me to join the track team. I wasn’t so sure, though. I thought that running around the same track four to eight times would feel pointless. However, my stubborn mind told me that if track helped me with cross country, the effort would be worth it, even if running around the same track would be totally boring.

It turns out that I loved and still love track. My first season was far from easy, and I averaged 6:50 miles at most meets, but I had this feeling that I was going to be good someday. Just because I was the slowest distance runner didn’t mean that I was always going to be that way.

My hopefulness started after the first mile I ran. I had barely any training, and my coach, Mr. Wake, brought me along to the varsity Bemidji meet, because I was the only girl who was willing to run 1,600 meters. I finished with a 7:17 time and didn’t get last, which was my goal. Afterwards, Mr. Wake told me how good I did and that I could become a really good distance runner by ninth grade.

Ever since that moment, I have been working hard to make state. My seasons since then have been improving, though not outstanding. This track season, though, I’m going to be a lot faster. The past three months I have been running crazy hard after school, doing distance pace killers, sprints, and sprint jogs. I have never been so determined to make something happen, and I believe that my goals for this season are definitely in reach.

Running distance has helped me in numerous ways. I have made a lot more friends since I joined cross-country and track, and I have become a lot more outgoing. Running is sort of an outlet for me, so I can put all of my energy into something besides hopping around the house. (Though I still do that anyways.) Ever since I’ve started running, I’ve become a lot healthier and stronger, and overall, I feel better about myself.

If you’re still in school and have never tried a sport, I highly recommend trying one. Even if you feel like you might not be good at it, still give it a try. I didn’t get good at running until my seventh grade track year. You have nothing to lose when you try something you have never done before.