Vigor in the Valley

    An investigation on running: part one


    Photo by Gabbie Henn

    In this picture from staff files, a marathon pacer passes through the Blugold Mile during last spring’s Eau Claire Marathon.

    Distance runners have a presence in the Chippewa Valley. There are the races: Eau Claire Marathon — which draws about 3,000 runners and walkers to the area — and countless 5Ks. Running groups like the Chippewa Valley Trail Runners and the Indianhead Track Club create community and the locally-owned Blue Ox Running Store outfits athletes.

    It’s commonplace to see a runner scouring the paved trails around the city of Eau Claire, even during harsh winter months. Footprints speckle the snowy trails during fierce winter months and headlamp beams dance in the night.

    During a blistering Saturday morning run last week, I began to wonder why people run.

    Most of the time when I’m running, every part of my body is screaming in protest. I don’t enjoy the way my legs feel like rubber or how my lungs burn. There’s a constant battle between my mind and my body: My mind wants to keep going, my body wants to take a two-hour-long detour to the closest ice cream shop.  

    Based on this evidence, it would be safe to assume I hate running with a passion. While that is partially true, it’s not the full story. Running can be torture but it’s also introduced me to some of the best people in my life, taught me patience and helped me feel strong.

    I asked some of my friends, who I met through the sport, why they run. A majority of them have completed half or full marathons. Here are their responses:

    “Running makes me feel good,” said Kayla Dainsberg, a third-year nursing student. “Helps me sleep and concentrate better, too.”

    “To stop thinking about life and stress,” said Noah Harmuth, a fourth-year computer science student. “It is like pressing the reset button on the day.”

    “It helps me relieve stress and stay healthy,” said Alex Zedler, a fourth-year biology student.

    “To relieve stress,” said Michelle Kielpikowski, a third-year accounting and finance student.

    “I run because it makes me feel strong and powerful,” said Olivia Jonasen, a third-year business economics and accounting student. “It also helps me clear my mind and is a way for me to ensure that I take time out of my day to just focus on myself.”

    I’d like to continue my investigation on the sport of running next week. Stay tuned.

    Neupert can be reached at [email protected].