If you ask me what I miss about high school, my answer is and always will be one thing: cross country. Yes, I was one of those crazy runners that did 5Ks and fartleks and distance training. My team was small but close-knit – pasta dinners, rambling conversations during long runs, rattling bus rides on Saturday mornings to various parks in the Greater Lansing area for meets – and I loved every minute of it. I was by no means a star athlete and I knew my chances at running for a collegiate team were sparse, so I was sad when my final high school season ended in November of 2007. I didn’t have time to dwell on it for long. I had something bigger to prepare for. College.
While I applied to a few different schools, I always knew I wanted to go to MSU. My parents both went there, I grew up basically living on campus while my father taught there, and I was incredibly partial to Buckeye Blitz at the Dairy Store (ok that wasn’t a huge factor in my decision-making, but being geographically close to good ice cream is always a perk). When I discovered MSU had a Running Club, I was sold.
What is a “Running Club,” you ask? It’s an organization on campus where students – both graduate and undergraduate – meet in front of IM West, typically 5 days a week, and go for a run. It’s officiated by a student e-board that also collects dues and holds monthly meetings to discuss upcoming races and other RC events. Carpools are arranged on weekends to races in the Lansing area, there’s an occasional team dinner or party, but it’s more than that – it gives students like me, who were used to running with people every day in high school, a chance to relive it. When asked why they joined RC, physiology sophomore Kayle Noble, mechanical engineering sophomore Amanda Boyd and animal science and agribusiness management freshman Rebecca Dow all said the same thing: They ran cross country in high school and wanted to continue running in college.
“I remember going to Sparticipation my freshman year with the intent of finding the Running Club booth. After finally finding it amongst the hundreds of other booths, I joined the club and have enjoyed being a part of it ever since,” said kinesiology sophomore Sarah Parks.
Naturally many of us are only in it now for staying in shape and camaraderie, but there are always a few people that just want to keep racing and didn’t want to deal with the constraints of running at a Big Ten School.
“When I knew I wasn’t good enough to compete at the varsity level, I knew running club was fit for me,” said kinesiology senior Eric Loveland. He’s since been a part of the club for four years. Two fellow teammates, computer science sophomore Jeff Girbach and history and English-secondary education freshman Colin Riley, wanted to continue to train together and do some local races.
“I like running club because it’s a chance to continue competitive running in college even if you aren’t on a varsity team,” said Riley.
MSU’s Running Club is also a member of NIRCA – National Intercollegiate Running Club Association, which is a network of running clubs from all over the U.S. This allows us to race against other colleges such as the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.
If you want to start running or you like to run but find that you’re lacking motivation, I highly recommend coming out to Running Club. Even if you can’t make it to a practice every day, find someone else on your floor or in your apartment complex and find a nice loop through campus. I’ve found that running with others motivates me to keep going when I might ordinarily stop.
Running for me is not just about keeping my body healthy – it’s a way to keep my mind healthy too. I’m addicted to endorphins – even a quick ten minute jaunt when I’ve had a hectic day clears my head like nothing else can. In all honesty, Running Club has been one of my favorite things about my time at MSU so far. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve stayed (relatively) in shape and I’ve found something that allows me to hang onto the memories I have of my high school cross country days.
For more information about Running Club, check out their Facebook page.