Running has been a part of my life since I was born. I grew up watching my dad compete in marathons and triathlons. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn to make sure that he got to races on time and waiting for hours to watch him race by. I remember thinking he was crazy but also being so impressed by his strength and endurance. I lived for those races where I could run the last hundred meters, my hand in his, across the finish line. Even then, running gave me a happiness that I couldn’t really understand.

I’ve been called crazy more times than I can count. I’ve been met with shaking heads, eye rolls, and open mouths; all in response to me telling them how many miles I ran that morning, or what I plan to run over the weekend. It’s not that people are being unsupportive or that they’re trying to discourage me, it’s just that they don’t understand.

First, let me explain...

This is what I mean by “distance runner.” On average, I run 25 to 30 miles a week. To do the math for you, that’s 6 to 7 miles twice a week, 3 miles once a week and one long run on the weekend. My long runs range from 10 to 20 miles depending on how I’m feeling and what race, if any, I’m training for. I have completed multiple half marathons and hope to run a full marathon this coming spring.

Elena Holceker

I know it doesn’t sound enjoyable and I realize that most people hate running, especially long-distances. But, I am in love with running. It gives me a sense of freedom and peace, and it allows me to explore the area where I live. Running makes me feel strong and gives me a sense of purpose when I’m feeling lost.

It may seem impossible to some people that I can keep my legs moving at a constant pace for over 2 hours. People often ask if I get bored during my runs and yes, I definitely do. Over the past couple of years, I have come to understand that running is just as much, if not more, a mental exercise as it is a physical one. The monotony of running, the pounding of my feet on the pavement, allows me to think about things that I don’t have time to think about during the day

Balancing running with a full class schedule, an internship and spending time with friends can get complicated. In order to have a productive day, I usually get up around 6:30 to run and eat breakfast before class. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and usually my biggest. By 1pm I’m starving and usually dig into whatever massive salad I’ve put together for myself that day. When dinner rolls around, I’m pretty exhausted and tend to opt for the least time and effort intensive meal that I can. Yay for frozen entrées!

Elena Holceker

People ask why I do this to myself, and my usual response is that I want to, that I like this lifestyle. But that isn’t always true. Sometimes, I choose to sleep in instead of running, and I have crappy runs all the time that almost convince me that maybe I am crazy. But in the end, running is always something that I can go back to, something that I can depend on.

Running has made me realize how amazing human bodies are, and that I am stronger than I know. As my dad says, “Why do we run? Because we can.”