Pushing yourself mentally and physically has advantages


By Kate Cullen

This weekend, a rare event will put students from the University and citizens from all over Illinois on the streets of Champaign and Urbana. The crowd will move as one through the streets, but individuals will try to nudge past each other in attempts to lead the swollen crowd. The event is the annual Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, and it unites runners from all over Illinois so that they can trample through the streets of Champaign.

The race consists of several events: 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon relay, youth marathon, wheelchair half marathon and wheelchair full marathon. According to the Christie Clinic, the 10K is the most popular race, as it is one hundred percent full this year. Many probably choose this event because it is 6.2 miles long and is the most realistic distance for mild runners.

For those like myself looking to challenge themselves physically, the half marathon is also a popular choice. While many people who are physically fit can attempt to run the 10K without much preparation, the half marathon requires more of a training regiment.

For most, training for the half marathon begins 12 weeks before the actual race, and the distance gradually increases in length as the race date slowly approaches. Like many, I decided to run the half to test my abilities, and, while I was never an overly dedicated runner, my training has made me a running addict. Through running, I have observed what we are capable of as humans and how we should challenge ourselves, both mentally and physically, more often.

It was several weeks into my training before the running bug bit me, but as soon as it did, I needed to run as often as I could. The runner’s high propelled me to stick with my training, even when student life had gotten the best of me. Running gave me a sense of accomplishment, and after I gained confidence, all I wanted was to push myself to the next level.

I’m confident that other students who are also in training have shared in these experiences and are just as excited as I am about race day. For many who run, it’s not about the competition between others, but it’s a competition with yourself. Running is about pushing your mind and your body past limits that you never thought you could reach.

With each step that passes and every mile that’s accomplished, the competition between your mind and body slowly diminishes as your body is united in finishing the challenge you have set before yourself. This creates a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched.

Pushing yourself and accomplishing a goal is something most students at the University are familiar with. We attend a premier academic University with a variety of opportunities at our disposal that many students take advantage of. However, we sometimes get comfortable in our success and fail to open ourselves up to new experiences. Especially as upperclassmen, we know the ropes of the University — we know how to get by and we know what it takes to succeed.

But with this sort of familiarity, we become more and more comfortable on our cushioned couches of success, which often causes us to not take on new experiences that place us outside that couch-filled zone.

That is what the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon is for me — it’s my personal challenge that pushes me every day toward a new goal. And even though it has nothing to do with academics, it is allowing me to learn what I am capable of.

Challenging yourself does not have to be physical. It can be anything that remotely interests you and provides you with a sense of measurable accomplishment you may not have in other aspects of life.

Training for the half marathon has given me a task to achieve everyday and it has allowed me to learn more about myself in the process. For instance, I learned that my mind is sharper after I have exercised, and even if running is the last thing I want to do, I will feel better afterward.

The seniors who are graduating in May are about to embark on a variety of new experiences, whether we want to or not, so now is the time to challenge ourselves in any way possible. By doing so, you will give yourself a sense of purpose, gain confidence and hopefully be a better person for it.

To those running this weekend, good luck. To those who are searching for their next race in life, I hope you find it.

Kate is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]