For many people, running is a way to stay in shape or maintain their physical appearance, but is often something they don’t enjoy. Competitive runners, both track and cross country, often find running to be both comforting and fun.

A large reason runners often enjoy the exercise is they start at an early age, according to Keene State Cross Country Interim Head Coach Tom Pickering. Pickering said that his father was a high school cross country coach.

“All of us children, the four of us in the family, grew up as cross country runners – as part of what we did athletically,” Pickering said. He continued, “If kids are taught at a young age that running is fun and they’re encouraged to run, they’ll run and they’ll enjoy it.” Pickering explained that if an athlete enters the sports environment and running is used as a punishment, they feel like running is a burden.

Senior women’s cross country runner Samantha Goldsmith said she began running in sixth grade.

Kendall Pope / Managing Executive Editor

Kendall Pope / Managing Executive Editor

“I started running then and I kind of fell in love with it,” Goldsmith said. “I run every single day and, if I don’t, it feels weird. It feels like there’s a part of my day missing.”

Goldsmith also said that the motivation behind competitive running can fuel one’s interest in the sport.

“In high school your team is so much more competitive…instead of running for yourself you’re running for a team as well,” Goldsmith said. “I think finding that extra motivation to run for other people was something that sort of helped me get really into it.”

Senior men’s cross country and track runner Eric Dietz explained how even though running is a passion of his, there are still some running-based activities that he prefers more than others.

When asked if running was a passion of his, Dietz said, “Definitely. Maybe not the longer distances, but more like the sprints. To me, they just feel rewarding.”

Dietz also said he thinks the rewards are what make running one of his passions. Dietz said, “It feels really good to see what you’ve accomplished over a period of time.”

KSC senior Mark Rabasco, who is a member of both the men’s track and cross country teams, said he initially started running to stay in shape for another sport. Rabasco explained that, while he was a soccer player growing up, running eventually took over as his favorite sport and he has never looked back.

It seems like getting started in running early in life, as Rabasco, Goldsmith and Dietz did, is a fairly common situation. “A lot of the people who come to Keene State to run cross country, are already passionate runners and enjoy it,” Pickering said.

Pickering finished his thoughts by explaining why some people get attached to running. He said, “It’s because there’s that sense of control and freedom they have.”

Crae can be contacted at cmesser@ksceequinox.com