My legs are tightening up and my lungs are burning. Pain is creeping everywhere through my body and exhaustion starts to become very apparent. I want to quit, but I know better than that. I was taught how to keep on pushing through the pain and to never give up. Every day at practice I had a choice to quit or to continue to work hard, but I knew that if I gave up, I would never be able to achieve my goals. Perseverance was ingrained in my mind and that’s what allowed me to finish the race.
Any endurance athlete can tell you how painful the sport that they compete in is. They will tell you how much they’ve wanted to quit, the mental strength that it takes, and the physical toll it puts on your body. With all these hardships and tough moments, many life lessons can be learned. As an athlete who has competed in many races and has countless miles on a pair of shoes, I have had to experience all these tough moments that produce life lessons. I have to choose whether or not it’s worth putting in the time and dedication to make myself a better athlete and person, or if I’m fine with just being mediocre. My life has been centered around these types of decisions that can lead me to be excellent or can lead me down a path that won’t get me any closer to achieving my goals.
When I think of all the times when I could have made a life choice that would have been harmful to me, the list is endless. I have had the opportunity to do drugs, vape, drink, and party my life away just like any teenager can do in 2019. Everybody has the option to do this or to stay as far away from it as possible. Whether or not people consider all of these things to be right or wrong, I have decided to keep myself away from them. The reasoning behind my choice is simple. I am an endurance athlete. All of those substances and life choices can be harmful to my athletic performances and my body. I’ve worked too hard for too many years just to let it all slip away so that I can be considered “cool” or “a normal teenager”.
If I never had my athletic background, I would not have had a reason to keep myself away from things that could harm my body or my life. If I didn’t have races on the weekends, then why should I not go to the Friday night parties and let loose. If I didn’t need my healthy lungs to help me get through some of the toughest workouts of my life, then why shouldn’t I vape. If I wasn’t a captain that had younger athletes looking up to me and using me as a role model, then why would I not do the things that make me look cool in the eyes of people my age. My life has been influenced by the grueling moments in my athletic career that have shaped me into the person I am today. The person that I am today is someone who wants to have a future in endurance sports and wants to make life choices that will benefit me in all areas of life.
So even when my legs are tightening up and my lungs are burning, I can be grateful that I learned to protect my body from things that could’ve harmed it. Even when I want to quit, I can remember what my life would have been like if I didn’t continue being an endurance athlete and the path that I might have taken. Even when I want to give up and be done with the tough parts of life, I can always count on my strength that I gained from my time as an athlete and how I learned to persevere through the things that seem impossible. Life is just like any endurance race, and I’m going to keep pushing through and finish strong.