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Running with a Fight: Mark's Blog Posted on March 10, 2014

Often as runners I think we forget how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to participate in this sport. It’s easy to get hung up on the past and very easy to stress about the future.  I have been a runner since I was 12 years old.  I started the sport for a simple reason.  My older brother was a runner and I was sick of being a chubby and out of shape football player.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I was becoming addicted.  For instance, I can remember when I first started my goal was to run 2 miles every day.  The plan was for me to PR every day. I went from a 17 minute 2 mile to a 12:15 two mile in just a year. Achieving that mark didn’t happen overnight. 

In high school I joined the Cross Country team. Although I had improved in middle school, I began feeling content. It showed in my freshman year Cross Country and Track seasons. I spent most of the year running slower times than in middle school. I had too many excuses. I needed a kick in the butt. My sophomore year of high school started off no differently.  I hadn’t improved or trained too much in the off season.  I tried to dwell on the fact I wasn’t getting any better but in the back of my mind I knew I would be a fraud if I complained about that.

Then I started to see myself changing.  I noticed the success of my teammates. I was getting my runs in every day but wasn’t working at their level.  I had the identity of a runner amongst my peers but I didn’t live up to those standards when it counted. During my sophomore year winter I decided I was going to work as hard as I could at the sport. I decided to implement a new attitude. “I will no longer say. I will let my training speak for my races.”

When senior year rolled around I stood with my teammates on the top of podium for the 2010 Missouri Class 3 State Cross Country Championships. I was our third man and truly felt for once I had achieved something real in our sport. That day nothing else mattered but my teammates, family, and friends. In retrospect, I felt too content.

After my senior year, I was offered a spot on the Rider University Cross Country and Track team. Their coach took a chance on me. I had grade problems, I wasn’t the most decorated recruit, and I certainly could have been a distraction. It only took one year for me to prove to all those people those accusations were true.  I ended up red shirting my Cross Country and Track and Field seasons. I failed to meet the team and school’s academic requirements and my failing attitude was for sure a distraction for my peers around me.

It was sad to think just a year before I had earned myself a state title with my teammates.  A year later I was starting to become the out of shape older version of my 12 year old self. Hitting rock bottom in the April of 2012 made me realize I wasn’t done yet. I can chase down new goals and I can prove people wrong. I always had a hard work ethic but now it was being questioned by not only others but myself.

Two years later and now I am able to truly reflect on what has happened in this short amount of time. Last summer I was able to run a 2:53 debut marathon and if it wasn’t for me forgetting my timing chip I would have qualified for the Boston Marathon at 20 years old. Yes, there are many runners out there that are much faster than me and I know I’ll never be the best.  However, I have learned two valuable things in the last two years. The first is patience. I now run 80 miles a week but it took me 2 years to hit that mark consistently. The second is to love the sport. Don’t run the miles and put yourself through the hell unless you truly find a thrill from it.

It’s only been two years since my crash in New Jersey. I am still young and understand that probably wasn’t the only time my running career will taste a piece of the bottom of the rock. I just know this time around if it does happen again I’ll do what I do best… I’ll get up and fight because this is a long term relationship and my love for sport will never die.


*Mark Spewak is the owner/founder of More Miles More Smiles*


by Mark Spewak

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