“Over the course of three years, I have radically changed my perspective on life through running. As I built up mile after mile, I dug further in to the layers of my own personhood. I did not know how much of myself I had left to discover until I began spending hours at a time with myself, free from the interruptions and distractions of my daily schedule. Distance taught me patience, solitude taught me self-awareness, and fatigue taught me about my inherent strength. Nothing has quite shaped me in the way that running has.”Kathryn Bennett, Student at Loyola University Chicago
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Share your journey and why this is important to you
As a senior in high school I was overweight and distressed by my body. When I was younger, I was athletic, extroverted, and energetic. Yet, I watched my later teen years slip by in a self-induced paralysis. Self-loathing blurred the distinction between my physical body and my personality. My discomfort with my weight was clearly reflected in my lack of assertiveness, socializing, and confidence. The day I went to college, my focus turned to radically changing the body that had held me back for so long. I began running and tracking my nutrition down to the macronutrient. My health slowly improved, but the sixty pounds that I lost over the next 24 months did not compare to the boundless growth of my sense of self. My personality became more open and supportive to others, as I now was secure in myself. My relationships with my friends, significant other, and family vastly improved. I gained a plethora of knowledge about nutrition and a new hobby in cooking for myself. Three years of extreme change culminated in the greatest moment of my life: the crossing of the finish line in the Chicago 2019 Marathon. Since that moment I have known a strength that bleeds into every other sphere in my world, from my academic pursuits to my professional goals and to the relationships I keep.
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How would you like to inspire others?
I want to demonstrate the rewards of pushing your own perceived limitations. My personal limitations were broken by the freedom I found in distance running. I now command a strong foundation in nutrition as well, and I can share that with others as a source of guidance and solidarity. Whether one’s practice is yoga, physics, kickboxing, or painting, to live life fully it is necessary to step outside of the comfort zone. Writing about my difficult, tiresome, and often uncomfortable obsession with running will hopefully inspire some to look into their own relationship between the true self and the body.
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