Last weekend, I participated in the University’s Reunion 5K. From the name, I should have known I was ineligible to win any of the prizes or even fully participate because I haven’t graduated yet. However, my goal for this 5K was to force myself to start running again after a month-long hiatus, not win a UR Koozie (the advertised prize), so it wasn’t all for nothing.

I started running this summer because quarantining in Nebraska is as boring as it sounds. But I hadn’t run competitively since quitting cross country club my sophomore year of high school, so I had to condition myself. I started off easy with just a mile-long run, then a half mile cool down, then a mile again, repeating until I’d gone 5 miles. I did this for several weeks, slowly getting faster and going on longer runs. 

I was running about seven miles every other day until halfway through September. The pressure of an all online semester clouded my interest in running, and I gave up running to focus on school. But over the last couple of weeks, I’d begun missing the exhilarating runner’s high.  So, I saw this reunion 5K as a way to force myself to get back on the horse. 

My crowd of spectators.

As it turns out, it is difficult to run a competitive 5K after not running for a month. But I was fairly happy with my 24-minute time because, frankly, I was afraid I wasn’t going to finish. I think the little geese (pictured to the right) cheering me on made finishing the race much more bearable. 

In spite of my post-race aching body, the experience reminded me how much I enjoy running and how important it is to make time for things I enjoy. Running is the perfect outlet for me because I can listen to music or a podcast while I run, using up my excess energy, so it feels like I’m being doubly productive. As sometimes unconsenting capitalists, I know we all love that feeling.

Running the 5K also reminded me that running helps me clear my head, so I can sleep well at night. Finding an activity to release my energy really improves my mood and gives me something to focus on other than accelerated semester. Integrating an energizing activity into my schedule breaks up my day and has really improved my ability to focus in class.

As an additional bonus, I’ve been back out running again twice since the 5K, and I saw a wonderful little duck while I was in another suburb of Omaha. I feel like an amateur birdwatcher with all the pictures of geese and ducks I am beginning to collect!

I know it’s hard to break bad habits and stay active when you’re stuck at home or in quarantine, but I guarantee doing something active (and then maybe writing about it for the Campus Times) will make your social distancing experience less painful. In my case, the joy of rediscovering my love for running overshadowed the disappointment of being an underage undergrad unable to win the UR Koozie.

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