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From the Bleachers to Marathon Training
By Bu Kathryn Buford

Throughout middle school and high school I abhorred running of any sort. In junior high, watching either of my parents run on a track while I sat on the bleachers always proved to be the impetus of my exercise ennui. It was not until my senior year in high school that I accompanied my mother to exercise classes, which I actually came to enjoy. Whenever my mother opted to go jogging instead of class, I simply told her: "Running isn't my thing." She persisted, however, in her attempts to get me to run and I begrudgingly succumbed to her pleas. To my surprise, I ran a mile with energy to spare. I returned the next week and, with a little more effort, ran two miles.

By the time I entered my freshman year in college, I could run five miles, which I never thought I would accomplish. I had also run 5K's over the summer and, loving a challenge, wanted to take on longer races. So, I followed the Hal Higdon training program, which I had heard about in Runner's World. After completing the 10K training program, I wanted to be able to run more, so I then began training for the 15K. I realized that I was disciplined enough to stick with a running training program and maintain my studies so I continued to challenge myself by following the 10-mile and half-marathon programs. It made me feel so accomplished to complete the half-marathon in particular because I told myself that I would be satisfied with the ability to run 10 miles. I came to learn that 10 miles would not be nearly enough to satiate my running appetite.

I decided to follow Hal Higdon's Intermediate I training program and now I am five weeks into my marathon-training program, and I have fourteen more to go. Some days of course are better than others. Sometimes I have to push myself to run when I would rather be sleeping or watching The Simpsons or Chapelle's Show. It is even more difficulty for me to overcome the pessimism I get from my family and friends. One of my relatives asked me did I know how long a marathon was in a condescending way and others have expressed their doubts about my endeavor. Yet, I do not let such negativity interfere with the process. I just think about the progress that I have been able to make in just a year and realize that I will reach my goal of running a marathon before my 19th birthday.

I now find running demanding, cathartic and very far from boring. I believe it is the only athletic activity in which being distracted can lead one to perform better. I think this draws me to running because I am a dreamer. If I could, I would triple major in Political Science, Sociology and Economics with a double minor in sign language and cinema studies. I think these fields of study would be sufficient in enabling me to change the world (among other imperative things on my to do list). Running is a great workout for my brain. When I run I think about life, society, my relationships and my future. Whether I am happy, anxious or upset, I can channel my emotions through running. In this sense, it is so much more than good exercise. Running provides a gage that allows me to release good or bad energy in a productive manner. It feels so good to be a runner and off of the bleachers. I'm taking everything one stride at a time.

Thanks Kathryn for sharing your marathon story.

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