COLUMN: Parental push provides a real running start

Despite only taking up the sport because he parents forced her, Earl Marriott Secondary's Ally Ginther says running has changed her life

By Ally Ginter, Special to the Peace Arch News

Running seven days a week may seem like a lot for a 16-year-old to do, but when aiming to reach your goals, it’s common sense.

The journey to the top may not always go as planned or feel fantastic, though.

I began running at the age of 10, after my parents forced me into a cross-country meet. Having so much hatred for the sport, I was furious at what they were making me do. I stepped onto the badly spray painted line at Crescent Park, dreading what I was about to endure.

Surprisingly though, when the gun blasted into the air, I forgot all my worries.

I finished 11th in that race and never looked back. I was obsessed, placing first, second or third countless times after that.

Something about the adrenaline pumping through my veins, and pushing myself to do my absolute best kept me going. My passion for the sport continued to build, as well.

In the sports of track and field and cross-country, you depend on yourself to do your best. The workouts are tremendously difficult and the mental pressure can sometimes make you or break you.

But when it all comes down to a race, you forget it all.

Throughout elementary school, I thought I only had to worry about a few girls beating me in my area. Even when I started high school, doing well at the Surrey Championships and Fraser Valley Championships was a breeze.

Reality finally struck when I made it to the BC Track and Field Championships in 2009, and the sport became intense and abundant with talented athletes.

Doing what you love can almost feel like a job if it gets too strict. I try to find a happy medium between being serious and enjoying what I am doing. Letting loose at practice and laughing aids in keeping me motivated to run well.

If things became too disciplinary and unenjoyable in the sport I adore, I know I would eventually drift away from it.

Loving something so much can take a toll on your emotions, though. I have definitely had my fair share of tears and thoughts of quitting when I don’t compete as well as I know I can.

Letting your mind take over won’t benefit you in any sport, especially track and field. If you allow yourself to appreciate your talent, you will find you feel more content in what ever you do.

Track and field, being an individual sport, can be mentally frustrating as well. Putting so much effort in and not performing your best can affect you drastically.

With any sport, staying focused is key. Particularly in running, your mind takes a lot of the heat when your body doesn’t deliver. This can somewhat plunge you down into anguish.

Recently, my father told me some inspiring words to remember: “You can not let yourself get too down or too happy because it will make the downs seem more drastic than they really are.” Keep note of this, fellow athletes.

Looking at both the accomplishments and failures of my track and cross-country careers, I realize I have enjoyed the majority of it. Even the sorrows have made me into a stronger athlete. From track races in extreme heat, to cross-country competitions in the bitter cold, reflecting on the past allows me to understand how important my sport is to me. I hope to continue racing on that brilliant red oval and those endless trails as long as I can.

Ever since that dreadful day in Crescent Park, I thank my parents immensely for introducing me to a sport that has shaped me into the passionate runner that I am.

Ally Ginther is a Grade 11 student at Earl Marriott Secondary, who is on a two-week work experience at Peace Arch News.