When I was six years old, I always walked home from school with my babysitter. But one day, I decided that walking was not enough — so I ran. I crossed the “big kid street,” leaving my elderly nanny (who was also caring for my toddler brother) in the dust. Let’s just say I wasn’t in my parent’s good graces by the time I got home, and I was sent to my room for the night while my poor nanny tried to catch her breath.
I think about this story a lot. Not only because I wonder how my parents survived raising the hell-on-wheels that I was, but because it reminds me why I love to run. Running is freeing. Running is powerful. Running is feeling lighter while breathing heavier at the same time.
I haven’t always run track and field, but I’ve always identified as a runner. Whether I was the fast kid on my soccer team or the one on the basketball court that coach liked to use as the “team rabbit.” Once I finally found my way to track and field late in high school, I felt at home. Not because I was athletically superior — sure, I was above average, but I was no state champ. Rather, because I enjoyed everything about running and training; pushing my body to limits I never thought possible.
When I tried out for the University of Oregon track and field team – one of the most prestigious programs in the country – I felt uncomfortably comfortable. I was out of my depths, surrounded by national champions and Olympians, but I also knew that track is – at its core – a sport centered around discomfort. By surrounding myself with these coaches and athletes I was putting myself in the best position to grow.
It’s this mentality that I aim to follow every single day. When the pandemic hit, I was living in San Francisco, working for a tech PR agency. Everything about my life was comfortable, but I felt stagnant; I knew I needed a new challenge. So, I followed my passion for performance footwear and applied to the University of Oregon Sports Product Management Program. A few months later, I was putting in my two weeks at work and preparing to dive back into school. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
As I become more comfortable with the sports product industry and what it encompasses, I continue to ask myself: what can I do next that will make me uncomfortable? What can read? What can I sign up for? Who can I talk to? How can I grow?
The fact of the matter is, I’ll continue to ask myself this question every day no matter what stage of life I’m in. And if I ever need a good reminder of what it means to be uncomfortable, I’ll head to the track and do 18-straight reps of straight-leg bounds.