Department of English

Fall 2007 Edition

On Top of the World

Danielle Josephson
Argumentative 1010 2nd Place
Professor: Dr. Bryce Christensen

To anyone who feels the pressures and frustrations that come with living everyday life, running can be the ultimate stress reliever. It is through running that one can remove him or herself from this hectic world for a small moment and feel the complete relaxation of body and mind. To some, running means competition. To some, it means exercise. But to others, like me, running means that for a short time, we can run away from our problems, and when we return they are no longer as big as we made them out to be. The ideal leisure runner is one who can clear her mind, relax her body, and find the renewed strength that comes with running.

My mother is the perfect example of the ideal leisure runner. She has been running every morning for the past 24 years. She started running after having her fourth child, and at first running started out as a form of exercise to keep her in shape. The more she ran, the more she saw it as a way to clear her mind and find solutions to the problems that come with being a mother. Every mother needs time for herself. Whether it is scrap booking or going for a jog, mothers just need a small portion of the day to get out of the house and escape their crazy lives. Between juggling a husband, seven children, and nine grandchildren, my mom’s life can get pretty stressful. You can now see why my mom took the time every morning to go out and just run. As soon as she starts to run, she is so good at just letting her mind go completely blank and allowing herself to leave all her problems behind her. She is no longer thinking of her moody teenage daughter, the pile of bills on the counter, the dirty dishes in the sink, or her husband who won’t clean up after himself; all of these things are left back at the house. While she runs, without the distractions she is faced with at home, her mind is allowed to ponder on the things that are important to her, and the things that make her happy. When she then returns back home, hoping the house is not engulfed in flames, her mind is sharper than ever, and she is able to logically think out solutions to her once overwhelming problems.

The ideal leisure runner is one who cannot only clear her mind, but she can also relax her body. Unlike leisure runners, competitive runners never let their bodies relax. These competitive runners, like the legendary Steve Prefontaine, who at the peak of his career held every American long distance track record, and Dean Karnazes, the Ultra Marathon Man, who recently completed 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days, are always pushing their bodies to move a little faster, and to go a little further. They are constantly pushing themselves to catch up to a certain person, or beat a certain time. They compete to become the best and not to just relax. Runners that compete rarely give their bodies rest. They are always involved in intense training. The ideal leisure runner doesn’t force her body to run, she runs because she wants to. She sets a steady, comfortable pace and allows her body to relax. She doesn’t force her body in any direction and allows it to create a flow that is easy on the body. She doesn’t put any strain or pressure on her body. As she begins to run, she allows every muscle in her body to loosen, and she can literally feel the pressures of life, which feel like a ton of bricks crushing her body, slowly being removed. The longer she runs, the more relaxed her body feels. It gets to a point that her body is so relaxed that she no longer has to tell her legs to move; they keep moving on their own. One foot follows the other without her having to think about them. Her body is relaxed, and now she can build up the strength she needs to conquer the remainder of the day.

Along with running comes a renewed sense of strength. The ideal leisure runner is one who can recognize that renewed strength. She allows her weakness to leave her body as she runs. She can feel both her body and mind gaining strength. Because of this characteristic, I believe that I am the ideal leisure runner.

I love to run because I know that when I get back from running I am a stronger person than I was when I left. I have the strength to accomplish what I need to that day. Especially since coming to college, my life has gotten pretty crazy, and I need that renewed feeling of strength everyday so I don’t explode from the inside out. When I feel like I am so overwhelmed with homework that I am going to be crushed beneath my load, and I feel like I am never going to get things done, I just put on my running shoes, and I run. I run and run and run, until I am no longer thinking of my entire workload at once, and I feel that I have the strength to conquer that pile of homework one page at a time. While running, I can feel weakness leaving my body like Heinz Ketchup being poured out of the glass bottle. Slowly but surely, I feel the weakness making its way out of my body and strength replacing it. The longer I run, the stronger I feel. I can recall many times in high school when I just got so frustrated with my friends, my family, my job, and my school work that I didn’t think I could make it through the day. During those times I would make it a priority to go running. When I would return from running, I had felt that I had the strength to make it through the week until I could go running again the next day. As I run, I feel invincible, like no one on earth can catch me that I can accomplish any thing, or overcome an obstacle that is placed in my way. This is a feeling that, for me, can only come from running.

To become the ideal leisure runner you must be able to clear your mind by allowing yourself to leave your problems behind, relax your body by creating a rhythm, and allowing your body to go with the flow, and discover the renewed strength that comes with running. To the ideal leisure runner, running brings a natural high and is the ultimate stress reliever. Running is the one thing that can make the ideal leisure runner feel like she is on top of the world.