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Cougar Spirit

Running: A Metaphor for Life

How High School Athletics Has Impacted My Life - Matthew Michaud
It hurt so much. My breaths were staggered, my surroundings blurry. My arms tingled, my calves throbbed. The taste of blood filled my dry mouth as I gasped for air. My ears rang as crowds of people screamed. This was the end. I’d been surging ahead, dodging through a stampede, but now I saw the finish line. I’d run three miles of what’s been renowned as the hardest 5k course in New England. I had focused on my foot strike for so long, I was growing light-headed. I could hear exhaustion in my competitors’ strides, and they could hear it in mine. I wanted to stop. I wanted to breathe. So I didn’t. 

My cross country coach once said something I’ll never forget. After arriving back to school from a race, some of my teammates and I stood in the parking lot under an orange sky which seemed to drift further into drowsiness with each passing minute. Our coach dropped his bags with a sigh and told us, “You know, running is a metaphor for life.” I took a deep breath and nodded. As we each departed under a sky set aflame, I knew exactly what he meant. 

Driving home, I reflected on how often I’ve found myself gasping for air and pushing my strained muscles to absolute exertion. I race all the time, and it never really gets any easier. One would think running for eight years would relieve some discomfort, but instead the contrary has become commonplace for me. Nerves and worries have time and time again greeted me on the starting line. My running form and speed have both seen vast improvement, but the pain always pushed harder. This should be anticipated, even embraced; it’s the nature of the sport. Cross country is an individual endeavor where the runner comes to find that their most prominent and worthy opponent is themself. Running is relative to personal records and self-improvement; it’s about becoming the best one can be, and it grows in difficulty as one’s strides become increasingly familiar. As one becomes fast, getting faster comes as an even more arduous, grueling task. It’s easier to be discouraged than be brave and face this challenge. It’s easier to give up. It’s easier to slow down when everything burns, your muscles thrust into an inferno, but it’s only through this struggle the runner excels. The runner grits their teeth and welcome this pain as fuel to drive harder, despite the chills running up their arms and their vision fading out of sight. It’s tribulation becoming triumph; the accomplishment of hardship. It’s powerful. It’s the nature of the runner. It’s a metaphor for life.

I believe in running. I believe that a life spent walking and resting is a life spent wasted. Man was designed to run, not to stay confined in comfort zones and steady paces; not to be comfortably numb nor content with such immobility. I run with the intent to feel my legs smolder; I run to see my life ablaze with passion. I run to expand myself; to grow, to flourish. I run to live a life of excitement. I run as hard as I can so I know I’ve made the most of my race when I cross the fateful finish line and the orange sky turns to night. I live for the staggered breaths, the blurry surroundings, the tingling arms, the throbbing calves, the blood in my mouth, and the ringing in my ears. I live to charge towards discomfort. I live to grow. I live to experience. I live to run. 
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