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.

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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.

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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

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