By Vittoria La Matta and Julia Yanosik
The sounds of heavy breathing, the complaints, the thumps of people's shoes as they repeatedly hit the ground. These were the sounds heard every morning during Miles of Motivation. Getting up every single morning at 6:10, but going to bed the night before at 11:00 pm. Running up and down hills in the cold, cold, cold weather. Resisting the temptation to hang up the wake-up call, and stay in your warm bed, instead of running a few miles with Coach Simpson.
Miles of Motivation was our 9-day program to stay in shape for basketball season while our class was on the road. It required waking up super early every morning of the trip to pound the pavement. When I was running, I found myself asking in the cold weather, with only athletic shorts on and a T-shirt, why I didn’t just stay in bed that that day. But, the harder you work, the better you feel after. I knew that after running nine days, I would be able to go home and tell my family, "Yes, I ran every single day."
The most memorable and scenic day was when we ran the riverfront in Montgomery. We started off the run going through a tunnel, and when we got to the river, the smoke-like mist covered the river like a blanket. It looked like something that you would see in a movie. Even though it was freezing outside, no one noticed or cared, because all we could think about, and look at, was the river. When we ran pretty far we turned around, but at this spot the river was covered by the trees. This is when I finally realized that I was freezing, but my body eventually warmed up, except my nose--that was the one thing that always was cold and numb.
To get back we needed to go up a flight of stairs, because we found a dead end. My heavy legs felt like bricks as I was going up. I had to keep telling myself, almost there, only a couple more steps. To keep up with my long-legged piers, I had to take the stairs two at a time. I focused on the top and pretended to be a kangaroo, to keep me distracted from the burning sensation in my thighs and calves. It felt as if my muscles were about to rip out of the skin from the numbness and the running. I thought we were done with stairs so I relaxed a bit, only to find out we had to go down another flight of stairs. I thought we were done! I knew it was not going to be as bad as going up, but I was pretty tired and my lungs were burning, my throat dry. I sprinted down and was going so fast I almost tripped over myself. I finally made it to the bottom! During that run, I realized how important mental toughness is, and always encouraging yourself here and there is a good idea.
Running in D.C. was also memorable and difficult with a combination of cold hills and jogging way too fast for 2 miles. The two of us were in the same hotel room, and all our conversations each morning are funny to look back on now. Really, neither one of us wanted to get up early and run, so every morning it was the same thing:
"Ughh. Can you hang up the wake-up call. It is too loud!"
"If I do that, we'll just fall back asleep."
"Well I don’t want to go to Miles of Motivation today. I'm too tired."
"We should go."
"It's ok to miss one day."
"I guess you're right. I'm tired too."
5 minutes later
"I think we should go."
"It's too late now."
"It's only 6:15!"
"Well, actually, maybe not. I'm tired."
"Then we shouldn’t go."
Another 5 minutes later
"Are you sure?"
"Fine, I'm coming too."
"Ok. Let's go."
That was literally every day's conversation. Especially on the last day the two of us were on the verge of not going, but we realized we needed to finish strong, and that it would feel good to run.
Running definitely helped improve my stamina and my endurance. Looking back at it now I am so glad I ran, and after I ran I did not regret going. I feel like when we would run you would get to know the city a bit better, and go to some places that our whole group did not get to go. We also got bragging rights to say we woke up at 6:00 almost every morning to run in the cold weather while everyone else was sleeping. We definitely had to sacrifice some things if we wanted to run, for example going to sleep at 11:00, sometimes 12:00, waking up at 6:00, and not getting the extra sleep you wanted, or falling asleep during the day which is pretty embarrassing. Even though it meant not getting as much sleep, it did feel extremely good to run both mentally and physically. We also gained some things the other people did not; like the pretty fall colors during the sunrises, getting to know the city better and more thoroughly, running by the river, learning that a baseball team in Montgomery had a mascot as a biscuit, the random singing, and weird moments, feeling proud at the end of the run, encouraging each other. These were the moments that only those people got to see and share, those fun moments that are now amazing memories. During the runs you felt alive and alert. Running in the cold crisp air was definitely memorable, alongside the beautiful landscape. I would definitely do that again.