Running for their lives

By The Beacon | February 5, 2014 11:32pm

Students turn to running for stress relief, relaxation, socializing and health

Taylor Tobin |

The thought of lacing up running shoes and hitting the pavement for a jog might make you  cringe. But for some students, it’s a necessary stride to meet goals, a time to reflect on busy schedules, or, simply, a way of life. They may not be on a UP cross country team, but these students still put in the miles in pursuit of that runner’s high.

Treading their own road

Sophomore Colleen Koenig looks at running as a necessity to her health.

“In college, especially when it’s super busy, I find it as a stress relief. I feel physically ill if I don’t run for a couple days,” Koenig said. “It’s an addiction; it’s a state of mind.”

Koenig comes from a family of runners. She started running with her mom when she was in elementary school, but wasn’t very serious about it until she joined her high school cross country and track teams.

“In high school we were training three times a day. We were crazy, it was too much. Now I just do my own thing,” Koenig said. “You have to adapt for what you’re training for and how you’re feeling.”

Junior Corey Nelson knows it is a good week when he can get more than a few runs in.

“Running is a really great way to smooth out your thoughts and focus on what you need to get done, but in a stress relieving kind of way,” Nelson said.

A social event

Junior Grace Christensen also notes that running can be a great time for socializing.

“Running by myself gives me time to reflect, but if I’m running with somebody else, there are some great conversations,” Christensen said .

Koenig has found that her deepest friendships in life have resulted from either being teammates with someone, or just running with someone for fun.

“When you’re out there with just one other person, and you’re at the point when you’re pushing yourself (while running), there’s nothing between you. You’re seeing (each other) in your rawest states,” Koenig said. “It lets you connect.”

Sophomore Sully Cothran made great friends in high school through his cross country and track teams, and misses that aspect of sport-playing while in college.

“The groups were always full of good people,” Cothran said. “College schedules can be irregular and it is hard to keep to the program without the schedule and support of a team.”

Pursuing goals

For freshman Alicia Angotti, running is not only a time to relax or reflect, but to meet goals.

“I quit soccer (after high school),” Angotti said. “I needed another goal.”

Angotti is currently training for her first race, the Windsor Green Half Marathon in Sonoma County, Calif. in May.  She started to run seriously last semester, but lost momentum when she had to take time off due to a calf muscle tear.

This time around, Angotti is healthy and well prepared to train. Angotti created a schedule that alternates between running, resting and cross and strength training to avoid injury.

Angotti gets inspiration to run from others who have trained for long distances, especially from her old soccer coach, who is a marathon runner.

“If they can do it, I can do it,” Angotti said.

When the demands of select soccer increased before starting to high school, sophomore Jenna Warner started running seriously. Since then, she has competed in a triathlon every summer. She has also ran half marathons for the past three summers.

However, Warner doesn’t only run to compete. She too uses her time while running as a reflection period during her busy schedule.

“Running for me is the time when everything is quiet. It’s a time when my thoughts become most clear. It’s really relaxing,” Warner said.  “Running is a good exercise and makes you healthy in the long run, but the mental benefits are just as great as the physical ones.”

Advice for runners

Christensen’s advice for those who plan to start running now is to not take it too fast.

“Start slow. Don't push yourself too hard right away, because you won’t enjoy it,” Christensen said. “The longer you do it, the harder you can push yourself, and the more you end up enjoying it.”

Nelson adds that it can be painful when you first start to run, but the benefits that you receive in the long run are worth it.

“Once you get past the pain, which can happen in a matter of weeks, it can become one of the most fulfilling things out there to participate in,” Nelson said.

Koenig adds that in today’s society, exercise can get a bad rap.

“In our culture, exercise is seen as a chore, rather than an enjoyment activity,” Koenig said. “We’ve really categorized exercise as unenjoyable, but what we forget it that our bodies are meant to be moving all day.”

Warner encourages others to take up running, because it’s something that you can make entirely your own.

“There are no expectations for anybody. Running is something you can do for five minutes or five hours. You make it what you want it to be. If you want to do it for exercise, or you want to make it competitive, it’s up to you,” Warner said. “It has a benefit no matter how you want to do it.”

Apps for runners

Gipis: (Free) Customized training plans for 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon. Training plans adjust after every tracked run.

Nike+ Running: Track runs and set goals, good for both experienced and new runners.

RunKeeper: Runs, biking, walking, hiking and gym activities can be tracked on this app. Map with GPS functions.