Students who run for fun


Jillian Maxwell

Jillian Maxwell (12) runs in her first half-marathon. She has been running for fun since the sixth grade.

Tennis shoes on, laces tied, earbuds in. Whether it be on a trail at Shelby Farms or on a sidewalk through the neighborhood, running has long served as an outlet for students to get outside and stay fit. To these students, going for a run is a liberating activity that balances both their mind and their body.  

One factor that drives students to continue to run is the mental health benefit. For Jillian Maxwell (12), who has been running since the sixth grade, each run is a small accomplishment providing her with the time to re-evaluate her life.  

“It definitely gives me an escape and is a good way to decompress almost, and I can just be by myself running and have the time to think about what all I’ll need to accomplish in the next days,” Maxwell said.

Running also allows students to maintain their level of fitness while some sports remain halted. Abby Cassius (11) started running cross country this year, but she has been running for nearly four years prior. She has utilized cross country as a form of exercise in replacement of soccer. 

“My parents have told me I can’t go to soccer practice until everyone is vaccinated because they thought it was too [much] contact.” Cassius said. “Running is definitely the replacement because I do that instead of playing soccer.” 

Like Cassius, many athletes who want to be in good shape for their sport run both during their season and after. No matter the time of year, runners are working towards a goal, and each has a different technique designed to improve pace and time. Injuries can occur when runners over-exert themselves, so it is important for them to take rest days or to decrease their intensity after strenuous exercise. 

“I think stretching is really important because your form is everything,” Dalis Hawkins said.  “You’ve got to make sure you don’t pull a muscle, too. Just so that you can have a longer stride and it lessens your running time.” 

Athletes who play sports that require a ball, like soccer, find that running is a useful way to round out their practice regimen. Hawkins, for example, sometimes replaces attending two soccer practices with one soccer practice and one run. 

“Soccer fitness and just staying fit are two totally different things because you’re running for ninety minutes with a seven minute break in between, so you have to get used to not just running the same pace the whole time, but switching it up with sprints and jogging,” Hawkins said.

Overall, athletes and non-athletes alike find that running provides various mental and physical benefits. Whether they have a strict or loose schedule, these students enjoy running for fun.

“It’s definitely an easy and convenient way to get into shape,” Maxwell said.