An unlikely love affair with running


By Erik Prado

What a sight it was, seeing the throng of marathon runners during the Christie Clinic Illinoia Marathon last weekend. Saturday was the culmination of months of dedicated training through the beautiful days, and the cold, snow-filled days.

I did not run the marathon. I do not think I am currently strict or disciplined enough in my own training to follow a marathon training schedule. But running 26.2 miles is no doubt a goal of mine. Sometime in my life, and hopefully more than once, I will be up to the challenge. Yet until then, I’ll stick with my four- to 10-milers.

Things got pretty ugly in Champaign the last time someone from The Daily Illini brought up running. No worries, I’m not here to claim I deserve an athletic scholarship, because I don’t.

And that’s okay with me. I ran track for three years in high school and was so-so. Truth be told, I disliked running any long distance in high school.

But then something funny happened that summer following graduation. I ran. I then ran some more.

Flash forward to 2014 and I’m still running. I strive for perfection in a lot of aspects in my life, but perfection is rarely achieved when running, because of my nit-picky attitude. I find myself questioning my sanity when I throw on tights and layers to hit the streets in below freezing weather.

My motives are questioned in the midst of tough runs filled with side stitches and heavier than usual breathing. Doubt creeps in when I do not hit a desired time.

That doubt leads to my brain, questioning my body’s desires. Ultimately, these worries float in my head and drive me until I take the first step on the next run. I find the answer when I experience that runner’s high, meet the time, or just know it was a good run.

Competitive or recreational runners, you all know this feeling.

Sports have led to the mindset of anything than first is a failure. This archaic mentality does not apply to running.

I’m often looking to improve on past performances and set new personal goals, with an emphasis on personal. The only person I’m racing is myself, and even then, I seldom boast about beating 2012 Erik. What’s the point, to coming off as ignorant and cocky? 

Running has almost become video game-esque, as recent applications have pushed people to log more miles to reach a milestone or unlock an achievement. The Nike running app has long been No. 1 on my phone, as it helps me monitor my goals, basically to the point where I can add running to my list of geeky habits. 

My goals are my goals. No two runners have identical ambitions, nor does running require crazy genetic genes to be good. Each runner has a different definition of ‘good.’ 

That’s why this sport is universally loved and admired. I did not realize how much I loved running until I spent almost all of winter break stuck in bed, including a few days in the hospital.

I had to find the perfect balance of coming back strong and restraint after being cleared to run. That long month of not running was over.

Just run, baby. Who knows, you might fall in love with it like I have.

Erik is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @e_prada.