Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Running: The underrated cure to burnout, stress and anxiety

Courtesy Creative Commons

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice. 

I’ve required some sort of athletic validation my entire life. I started playing soccer when I was four, my chubby legs wandering around a five-by-five foot field, thoughtlessly motivated. I continued playing soccer through high school, with a couple stints on my middle school basketball and track teams. 

But all of that seemed so distant when I started at Emerson in the fall. I never wanted to play soccer competitively in college, but I had hoped the intramural programs would be bigger. While Boston boasts major sports teams, soccer culture isn’t nearly as big here as it is in South Texas. For the first time, I found myself stuck—I was without a team, without a sport, without a goal. 

It’s nearly impossible to walk along the Charles River Esplanade during daylight hours and not see a runner—I dare you to try. I started running a couple of times a week over the summer and even ran a 10k race, so naturally I started running almost daily when I moved to Boston. I suddenly had a new goal—run a marathon, and maybe someday qualify for the Boston Marathon. Soon, I started averaging 30 miles a week, squeezing runs in between classes and extracurriculars. As both a challenge and excuse to go back home for a weekend, I signed up to run the Austin Marathon in February. 

Most people run at least a half marathon race before attempting the full 26.2 miles, but I have a habit of setting improbable goals for myself. Still, I trained four to six days a week starting in September, then ran Austin in just under four hours and ten minutes. The feeling of finishing was surreal—I was physically and mentally fatigued, and I had no control over my emotions. When I hugged my mom at the finish line, every tear that my dehydrated body could muster escaped down my cheeks. 

In the fall, running for 26.2 miles straight felt like standing at the base of a mountain that I had no chance in hell at climbing. Now, it’s been one of the most gratifying experiences, and running has become habitual instead of a task. I’ve had multiple experiences where I’m in the Little Building elevator, having just come back from a run, and people have asked me what I was doing. After telling them that I had just ran a few miles, they reply with semi-patronizing comments about how they could never, one person even calling it “cute.” While I know running may not be accessible for everyone, it’s a rewarding sport that requires no equipment, team or partner, making it a great opportunity for those interested. 

Running has numerous mental and physical health benefits. According to WebMD, running can result in a stronger immune system, more energy, improved memory, and better sleep. I’ve had anxiety for most of my life, and running allows me to clear my head while being physically active. I’ve found that running at my own pace, with or without music, helps alleviate worries about school, my career, and the stress of college. I can just be me. 

I think runners and running receive a bad reputation from the ultra-fit influencers on social media. After liking a few running videos on Instagram, my feed is now filled with people who post about running over 10 miles a day at a sub-8 minute pace, fueling themselves with expensive drink powders and gels. It’s just not reasonable—especially for a college student who works and is involved with multiple student organizations. 

When talking about running, it’s hard to persuade people that it’s doable for anyone when those images of shredded, seemingly unemployed athletes come to their mind. These influencers entertain the idea that running is exclusive, and it shouldn’t be. You don’t need a matching Lululemon set and $300+ Hoka Bondis to get out and enjoy yourself. You can still be a “runner” regardless of whether your pace is seven min/mile or twenty min/mile. 

Thousands will flock to Boston on Monday to run one of the most celebrated marathons in the world. While I have a long way to go before qualifying for the race—the qualifying time for women 18-34 is 3:30 hours and I ran my race in 4:10—I can’t wait to experience it from the sidelines in real time. In Austin, the energy from the crowd was amazing: there were hundreds of people cheering, offering water (and tequila shots), and supporting their friends and strangers alike. I can’t wait to see that on an even bigger scale here in Boston. 

With marathon festivities underway, I hope that the sport can be seen as inclusive, intriguing, and even fun. I urge people to try it out, even if it means running for small bursts and taking breaks to walk. Running isn’t easy—I still struggle with it every day. Still, if you’re looking for a challenge, running can be a great way to enjoy the spring air along the Esplanade while pushing yourself mentally and physically. 

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About the Contributor
Emma Siebold
Emma Siebold, Staff Writer
Emma Siebold (she/her) is a first-year journalism major/political communications minor from Spring Branch, Texas. She is also an associate producer for WEBN-TV and editorial assistant at Emerson Today. Outside of the newsroom, Emma enjoys training with the Dashing Whippets running team, listening to folk music, and obsessing over Marvel movies.

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