What it’s like to be a long-distance runner

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Zoe Wolfe
After the official fires the pistol, Zoe Wolfe (11) gains a lead over competitors from Germantown and Whitehaven at the cross country meet at Shelby Farms. Despite the heat, she strives to run her best and make the most of the experience.

While most are still sleeping soundly at 4:30 a.m., Zoe Wolfe (11) gets up, grabs a granola bar and goes on a six-mile run. 

Although she started running when she noticed that it elevated her friend’s soccer skills, running has become a staple in her life. 

“My first run was with my dad and some of his running friends…after about a mile I was done,” Zoe Wolfe said. “The next day, though, I woke up ready to try again. I guess I haven’t really stopped since.”

Many of her cross country teammates had similar starts and also vouch for the benefits of long-distance running. 

“It’s really easy to relieve stress and clear out your mind… and it’s very therapeutic,” Russell Wolfe (9), her younger brother, said. 

Not only does running have positive mental health effects, but it also presents social opportunities.

“You meet so many fun people, and you can destress by ranting to them on a run,” cross country teammate Emma Shadow (12) said.

This community aspect is what motivates some runners, such as Wyatt Charles, a junior on the cross country and track teams. The sense of camaraderie motivates Charles as he and teammates talk, hang out and prepare for upcoming meets and events.

“Running races and having people cheering for you is the best feeling ever,” Charles said.

Shadow, Charles, Russell Wolfe and Zoe Wolfe all train for races in different ways, but the one thing in common is that they strive for self-improvement. 

 “Running is a sport against yourself more than anything,” Zoe Wolfe said. “The running community competes less against each other and more against the limit of what we can do.”