Zaara Hussain Ahmed, '25
Head up, back straight, hands at waist level, shoulders relaxed, you propel yourself forward and land softly on the soles of your feet. Then you push forward again, slowly at first and then, slowly your speed picks up as you find a rhythm. The wind on your face, your clothes sticking to your body, beads of sweat make their way down the sides of your face as the sun burns down. Your heart starts pounding and you fill your lungs with air. Oxygen pumps through your body and your brain, your eyes focused ten, twenty feet ahead of you. That is running for you.
It is not rock climbing or snowboarding, but an indescribable feeling of freedom, spontaneity and exhilaration that overtakes you as you push yourself beyond your limits and shuts out the pain of achy muscles. You run for no other reason but to cover the next block, cross the next corner, power through the next mile, and continue forward. Running cross country is a challenge. You have to convince yourself, “I’ve got this.” You fight the limitations of your body as you propel yourself forward and before you know it, you have overcome your fears. You realize you are capable of more than you ever thought possible. An affirmation that you are the master of your own destiny. Running cross country gives you confidence in yourself and your ability to overcome every obstacle that comes your way.
For many people running is just a physical act. For me, running in my free time is a form of meditation. It tears apart negativity regarding school, clears out the cobwebs in my mind and replaces them with a sense of achievement. The steady pace of my feet hitting the road is like my mantra. As I leave my worries behind, I feel completely relaxed and connected with nature and the environment.
It is also a wonderful group of friends, like-minded determined people who make my day. We connect with each other by sharing experiences of pain and euphoria, inspiring each other, and building memories as we work towards our individual goals. We are part of a unique community — united, respectful, and understanding.
Running cross country is a life-affirming sport that can help you achieve your potential, not just on the road, but everywhere by applying its lessons of resilience, self-discipline, and commitment to all spheres of your life. But you do not have to be the next Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, or Florence Joyner to run. You can just enjoy the wind on your back and the spring in your feet.