As I began my evening run down the Centennial Trail, my old training habits from years of competitive running kicked in: checking my watch, ensuring my pace was correct, and keeping my stride even and smooth. I worked my way through downtown Spokane, staying close to the river and observing the nighttime bustle that was all too familiar on Friday nights. As I circled back through the city, headed back to my apartment on campus, I realized that while I loved my time competing during high school, my interests had shifted once I entered college. Instead of using running as a method of competition, it became more therapeutic and comforting, a way to reduce the stress of a busy week at school filled with assignments and exams. My life has completely changed since I left for school, and using running as a method of relaxation has helped me countless times during the last three years. This realization has led me to an activity that, before college, I had no idea I would enjoy in the slightest.
Over the last three years, during our summer breaks, me and my friends from high school plan a backpacking trip to different places in the Pacific Northwest. Backpacking presents some of the same challenges as running, including the constant pain that is present during a 10K or a half marathon, but it also provides many new challenges. Before these trips, I had no idea how to camp, clean and filter water, and monitor my intake of water and calories to ensure that I could continue hiking. More surprisingly, despite how difficult running competitively can be with sprint workouts, long runs, and tough races, I have found backpacking to be just as difficult, but equally rewarding. These trips have led me to some of the most beautiful places in our area, and I have found that the more challenging the trip, the more beautiful and rewarding the views seem to be.
Last summer, our chosen destination was Mount Hood, and we planned a three day trip that would see us completely circle the mountain. This was by far the most difficult activity I have ever done, as it required walking through hours of heat and sore legs to reach our goal. However, I also saw some of the most beautiful scenery and captured some amazing moments, and it reminded me that, unlike my competitive running experience, I can stop to enjoy the moments instead of being focused purely on results. Instead of pushing to reach the finish line, I can enjoy the moments along the way there, and reach it in due time. This mentality has transferred to my college experience, as on top of working towards my finance degree and a job following graduation I have made sure to cherish the experiences and memories along the way.