Bang, my head emerges from gazing towards the ground to seek the sound; quickly I realize it was the race prior to mine. My hands anxiously rub against my perspiring thighs, while I visualize what is about to come. “Junior Mens 5000m follow me towards the track”, the race starter declares to the brave athletes who are about to embrace twelve and a half gruelling laps of the track. It is my first Canadian Nationals, and the thought of running against Canada’s best Juniors gives me an exhilarating feeling throughout my body. While following the starter I impatiently shake out my legs, and prepare for a couple warm up strides. Before getting called to the line, I steal a glance at the big video board and witness my name flash across the screen I allow for an brief smile to flood over my face. While we are lining up, I take a deep breath and once again visualize the race, then the words “Take your mark” echo over the speaker and I toe the line ready to do what I love.

IMG_1521[7]The thing, that in my opinion makes distance running more mental strength than physical, is that you know before each race or excruciating workout, that your bell is going to be rung no matter what. Rarely you see distance runners finish a race with their hands up celebrating, but rather just after the finish line you see them in the fetal position gasping for air. This is why I visualize before each race, take deep calm breaths, and think of positive outcomes; since I know its going to hurt, but the man with the strongest will to uphold the unbearable pain will come out on top. Immediately after each race, whether it was successful or disappointing, I think to myself “Why on earth would I want to do that again”. However, time after time, I find myself toeing the line looking for the thrill of another race.

Me, in the green, with fellow future Vike Chet Goerzen
I am proud to have finished an extremely successful outdoor track season, reaching goals that I set out for myself in the middle of the cold winter. Were there days where I didn’t even want to look at my runners? Of course. But those are the days where you get better, striving past the pain, pushing your body to new limits. Not every run is going to be enjoyable, in fact, I would personally figure out maybe one or two runs a week I found satisfying. However, those runs where I didn’t want to lace them up, are the ones that benefit come racing time and appreciate going out when you crush your old PB’s during race season.

The future excites me, I look forward to running at the university level, and training with other excellent runners in Victoria. I look forward to write my future stories in this journal, to share with others. To be able to do the two things I love the most, running and writing, in one place is my dream coming to fruition. While I sit here eagerly awaiting for the calendar to flip to August, signalling the start of cross country training, I will appreciate the past season and times with friends I have had over the last few months; and of course rest up for another gruelling season, where I hungrily await for the thrill of future races.


Josh Kozelj