By Victoria Parent (Guest Blogger)

In honor of National Running Day we ask, “Why running?”

That’s a question I’ve tried to answer since my freshman year of high school. It’s a question that follows the running community with each step of every mile; it’s a question that can’t be answered unless experienced.

FLASHBACK TO 2013: I never believed running would take me anywhere. When I started running track my freshman year of high school, I was terrible, slow, and told I didn’t have the type of body to be a runner. That’s why I was surprised when my coach patted me on the back and said, “Good job kid. Can’t wait to see you break six minutes in the mile!” Six minutes? Was he crazy? Soon I learned that my coaches and most other runners are optimists. Who else would voluntarily, and mercilessly I might add, run for hours every day, in any type of weather for fun?  Two years after that conversation with my coach, I won my first race in the mile with a time of 5:35. Today, I’m a half-marathoner, a Virginia All State athlete in the Women’s 5k, and a collegiate runner. 

Today, National Running Day is back! June 4th, 2014 celebrates the wonderful sport of running—but for some of us, we celebrate running almost every day of the year. 

Many aspects of my life have changed since this time just one year ago, but one thing that hasn't changed is my love for running. If anything, my love of running and it’s role in my life have been amplified! In the past year, I made the transition into collegiate running and it turned my world upside down. I travelled up and down the East Coast with my team; going to legendary meets like the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University, to racing to alongside the ocean at a huge invitational in Connecticut. I’ve said it before, but it has never been truer—I never could have anticipated where running would take me, but pursuing what you’re passionate about hardly disappoints. It also helps that since joining Mary Washington’s cross country and track teams, I’ve become friends with some of the greatest people, and runners, in the world (not even biased, totally a fact). 

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For this year’s National Running Day, get out there and go for a run! Find a friend, or go with a group—almost every town and city has a local running shop that’s putting on a fun run in honor of one of the best days of the year. My local running store in Fredericksburg, Virginia Runner, is offering two fun runs today—all paces, all distances, all levels of experience welcome! National Running Day is about more than logging miles; it’s about celebrating and growing with a community of people who express themselves through the art that is running. Go for a run today, you never know where you might end up. 

And while you’re here, check out some of these gnarly running trails that the team at Roadtrippers has discovered!

6.) Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
Issaquah, Washington

This is as close to sublime as you’ll get. A 3,100 acre park just outside Seattle that features 36 miles of trails that cover the “Issaquah Alps”, towering waterfalls (like Coal Creek Falls), creeks, and glacial boulders. You’ll also pass by historic mine shafts and Cold War missile silos (just beware roaming bobcats and black bears)

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5.) Ice Age National Scenic Trail
LaGrange, Wisconsin

This 1,200 mile route across Wisconsin isn’t fully completed yet, but there are 600 miles of lush forests, ancient prairies and virtually every kind of wetland you can imagine. Everything you pass by was created during the last Ice Age’s glacial melt.

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4.) Kalalau Trail
Kauai, Hawaii

This is the only way to access Kauai’s breathtaking Na Pali Coast by land. It’s an 11 mile trail that begins at Ha’ena State Park and crosses five valleys, sea cliffs, waterfalls and white sand beaches. There’s even some ancient Hawaiian ruins along the route.

Aerial View of the remote Na Pali Coastline

3.) Poison Spider Mesa
Moab, Utah

Incredible views of jagged rock and cracked Navajo Sandstone make the slickrock trails of Poison Spider Mesa a runner’s paradise.

Moab Portal View

2.) The Long Trail
Winhall, Vermont

Vermont’s Long Trail is believed to be the oldest long-distance trail in America. It was built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930. It’s a 273 mile route that runs from Northern Massachusetts, through Vermont all the way to the Canadian border, along the Greek Mountains. 32-year old Pennsylvania carpenter Jonathan Basham ran the trail in 4 1/2 days back in 2009.

Hiker on Camels Hump in Vermont, which is part of the Long Trail.

1.) Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Canyon, Texas

It’s no wonder the Palo Duro Canyon is considered the Grand Canyon of Texas, it’s 120 miles long, 20 miles wild and considered the second largest U.S. canyon. Every October there are races along the Spicer & Lowry Trail.

Palo Duro Canyon, Canyon, TX

In an apathetic world, running rebels against every force that tries to restrict us. It requires intrinsic motivation, commitment, and teaches discipline— important qualities that are disappearing in our world. The incredible community, the thrill of finishing a race, and the constant drive to be better than who I was yesterday is why I run.  I never believed running would take me anywhere; now, now I believe running can take me anywhere.

 

About: Victoria Parent, recent graduate from Courtland High School in Spotsylvania, Virginia. She will be studying at the University of Mary Washington in the fall where she will also be running cross country and track and field.

Twitter & Instagram: @viccckpea

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Photo Credits:

Coal Creek Falls: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Coal_Creek_Falls_04067.JPG

Ice Age Trail: http://therunfactory.com/tag/adventure-run/

All other Photos: Shutterstock

Featured: Victoria Parent