Post Track Days: Rediscovering my Love for Running
“IF YOU HAVE A BODY — YOU ARE AN ATHLETE.”
That is one of my favorite quotes of all time is… + not just because it comes from Nike [my favorite athletic brand : )], but because it shows how important the body is when you are working, training, + running. Your body is everything.
Since I can remember — I’ve always been an athlete. From a very young age, I would be constantly racing around the block with my brother or signing up for competitive afterschool sports during elementary school. Once I reached high school, it clicked + that’s when I really became an athlete — or should I say, a runner.
I joined the Track Team when I was a freshman + to my surprise I made the varsity team without even knowing it. I had no idea that I was a talented runner, even though my father was a champion track athlete in Puerto Rico [go Dad!].
Track became my life to put it lightly. I ran 6 days a week + spent 3 to 4 hours a day training. I spent most of my time thinking about workouts, planning race strategies, + competing at meets across Illinois. I ended my high school career on a great note; I became an All-State Athlete at the IHSA Girls 3A Track + Field State Championships + broke a longstanding school record that I had been wanting to break for years. Ending high school running was bittersweet but I knew the end to my high school career was going to propel me into an even better collegiate running experience.
Just like all races, unfortunately, my collegiate running career came to an end.
I was scouted to run for DePaul University in the fall of my freshman year when I hit an unexpected bump + got injured. Never being dramatically injured before, I was stunned at the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run. Without running in my life, I felt lost. I decided I needed to find something to keep me busy while I was recovering, + soon after, I got a job working for Nike *heart eyeballz emoji*.
Working for Nike has been an incredible experience — I’ve learned so much about the power of great fitness gear + even more so, about the passion I have for health + fitness. I’ve met hundreds of people while helping them find apparel + shoes — some of them famous ; ) [Scotty Pippen + “That’s So Raven” are a just a few!]. Meeting so many people has really taught me how incredibly important it is to make a great first impression because you never know who you’ll meet next + how they may affect your life
+ One day, in fact, I did meet someone who surprisingly changed my life.
While working at the Nike Chicago store, I met a girl who needed help exchanging shoes + one thing led to another we started talking about CHAARG. She left with her shoes + left me with something even greater.
That day I met the founder of CHAARG, Elisabeth — crazy, right?!
I followed her advice + looked up CHAARG. I was amazed that I had never heard about it before. I knew immediately this was something I wanted to pursue + be a part of. Soon after, I applied to bring CHAARG to DePaul + was one of the few girls selected to become an Ambassador. I’m so happy I took a leap of faith in applying –- it is amazing being a part of this community.
Being #inCHAARG has not only brought me to eat healthier, live healthier, + be healthier, but being #inCHAARG has also brought me to find my team again.
Losing the ability to run my freshmen year of college left me without a team + a lost passion for running. I missed the support, the motivation, + the inspiration that a team gave to me.
With the help of my CHAARG girls — I slowly but surely faced my fear of running. For so long I was afraid of running because I only knew the competitive side of it. But, I’ve realized that running is so much more than that. Running is about lacing up, getting out there + letting your mind + body explore what it’s capable of. Seeing the way that everyone puts in their mileage for #runCHAARG has made me realize that I don’t need to be a competitor to still do what I love the most — to run.
I’ve found my love for running again + I’ve found an even more amazing team. You all are my team — a team of runners, fighters, trainers, friends, ATHLETES.
Here’s a quote that I’ll share with you that resembles so much of my running journey…
“RUNNING HAS GIVEN ME THE COURAGE TO START, THE DETERMINATION TO KEEP TRYING + THE CHILDLIKE SPIRIT TO HAVE FUN ALONG THE WAY. RUN OFTEN + RUN LONG, BUT NEVER OUTRUN YOUR JOY FOR RUNNING.”
Keep running + keep dreaming,
+Carina [@cari_inCHAARG], DePaul CHAARG Ambassador