Starting Lining

Running towards change: How training for a 10k race ignited a positive shift in my mindset.

It was just another day at home, filled with feelings of sadness and lack of motivation after voiding my MCAT score. Little did I know that a simple phone call from a friend would change everything. He invited me to join him in training for a 10k run, a whopping distance of 6.2 miles. Though initially hesitant, I saw it as an opportunity for a positive change and eagerly signed up for the race. Little did I know what I was up for.

There was only 12 days until the race, and I had to make each day count. Seeking guidance, I turned to the best runner I know, my sister. She has been running all of high school so surely she knows a thing or two about running. After a call of me explaining to her why in the world I decided to take on such a run, she took the time to make a comprehensive training plan. All I had to do was to stick with the plan and give my best effort.

And so my running journey begins. I have never been serious about running before. It has always been an exercise I least prioritize and often left out. But the 12 days I have left leading up to the race will be different. All my effort and training solely focus for running. This was not just a plan, it was dedication; I was willing to adapt and modify it as circumstances changed, but I never lost sight of my goals.

Along the way, I discovered a lot about myself and my body. I realized that anything is possible if I set my mind to it. I vividly remember my first excruciating 4-mile run. While I received ample support from friends and family, I found that I was my own best cheerleader. With each step, I reassured myself that I could do it. Mile by mile, I celebrated in my mind, picturing the finish line with outstretched arms as if winning first place. Every sign and cone became cheering spectators, and I exchanged imaginary high fives as I pressed on. I found ways to remain consistent and keep moving forward, even when my body resisted. However, it was equally important to listen to my body. As much as I wanted to perform well, it wasn’t worth risking injury or harm. If my knees were hurting, I had to consider the possible causes—overuse, improper form, lack of stretching, or cooling down. I learned to listen to my body and take the necessary steps to recover and improve.

Training was challenging, but I made an effort to make it enjoyable. Each day, I started at a new starting line and varied my routes to keep things fresh and exciting. I practiced different greetings with the people I encountered along the way. For fellow runners, I smiled and gave a “you got this” look while doing a fist pump. For cyclists, I often greeted them with the peace sign, as it was a common way to say hi. Whenever I passed people out for a stroll, I greeted them with friendly waves and spirited hellos.
The physical demands of running made me realize the importance of proper athletic apparel. Sweat would drip from my forehead into my eyes, occasionally causing discomfort. The front and back of my shirt would be drenched, and I would sweat more than I could ever imagine. I developed a newfound appreciation for comfortable activewear. Indeed, “running is free,” but investing in suitable gear became an investment in my overall experience.

Throughout my training, I connected with friends who were also preparing for the race. Together, we realized that running 10k was more than just one event—it involved a significant amount of training. Reflecting on our training, we had to run more than what the race entailed. For a 6.2 mile race, I ran a total of 25 miles in preparation for it.

Race day finally arrived, filling me with a nervous anticipation. Despite the my muscles feeling achy and fatigued, I felt confident knowing that I had dedicated so much time and effort to prepare for this moment. The race took place around a picturesque lake nestled in the San Bernardino mountains. During the race, my main focus shifted from the breathtaking scenery to the thin mountain air, leaving me gasping on every uphill, as I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.

The race consisted of two laps around the lake. By the end of the first lap, a wave of emotions overwhelmed me, and I silently shed a few tears before gathering my strength to persevere. As I reached the fourth mile, a sudden sense of demoralization washed over me when I noticed a tiny Yorkie dog effortlessly passing me.

I crossed the finish line arm-in-arm with one of my friend, achieving a time of 59:13. (My other friend total out ran us but all is good haha.) It was an exceptional personal achievement—the fastest and farthest I had ever run. Celebrating this milestone with my friends brought immense joy and a sense of accomplishment.

With renewed self-confidence, I set off to resume studying for the MCAT and signed up for another race. This time, it was a half-marathon, a demanding 13-mile beast.

With this, I want to encourage you to begin something you have always wanted to do or try something completely new. Embrace life’s obstacles as opportunities for change and take that leap of faith. With consistent effort and unwavering dedication, you can achieve anything. Reflect on how far you’ve come and focus on self-improvement. Success is the result of becoming the person you aspire to be. So, what are you waiting for? Make a plan, lace up your shoes, and I will see you at the next starting line.

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