Dear Running: I've Come To Understand You More Than Ever

Brynn Brown is a junior at Denton Guyer High School in Texas. She's a two-time Class 6A outdoor state track and field champion and was a qualifier for both Foot Locker Nationals and Nike Cross Nationals in 2018. The start of her junior cross country season has been electric, as Brown -- who was No. 3 on the MileSplit 50 until her injury -- unleashed the second fastest 5K in high school all-time (in XC), going 16:12.00 at the Texas MileSplit Invitational. While a recent injury has set her back just slightly, she remains focused as ever. She wrote this heartfelt letter to running in the meantime.

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"It's when we are challenged that we grow."

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By Brynn Brown --  Denton Guyer High School junior

Dear Running, 

To the sport that has blessed in too many ways to count. 

You have been given to me as a beautiful gift from the Man upstairs and I am eternally grateful. That feeling of getting lost in my footsteps as I dwindle the pace cannot be compared to. The countless sacrifices, miles, tears, and drops of sweat and blood have been so worthwhile. You keep me sane and you keep me head leveled. There's nothing like taking my frustration out on a tempo run. 

But now I can no longer get lost in my footsteps, or feel the energy from the crowd when I storm down the final stretch. 

I placed so much of my identity in you, I felt like you defined Brynn Brown. I began to feel valued solely by the records I broke, the number of miles I could run, and lost sight in who I was. 

When you were taken away from me recently I didn't know what to do, completely perplexed at my circumstances. I was left to meander through my thoughts. Who is Brynn Brown? 

At the time, I was brimming with anger, sadness, and felt lost; and I couldn't even go for a run to figure it all out. So I swam and biked like mad, determined to get back to you. 

Then I took a step back to analyze my current situation. My body was breaking down and I didn't take note of the signs, I just kept pushing. I never once admired what my body could accomplish, I always craved more. But I was beginning to take you for granted. 

And now I realize how much of a gift you are. 

I took my foot off of the throttle (literally) for once in what felt like an eternity. I began to recover from my obsession, I found joy in all endeavors. In this long week from being sidelined, I've learned more than I would have ever imagined. I came to understand why recovery is so crucial, and what I've been missing out on my whole running career. 

I found a new and innovated version of myself. I began to appreciate the little things, became slow to speak and quick to listen. I discovered something I had been lacking, even in the best shape of my life: Belief. 

My mindset towards you has changed, completely, and my passion feels renewed. Sometimes something needs to be taken away from you for you to truly appreciate it. My bones may break, but my passion for you is interminable. And although now grounded to the pool and bike, my belief is stronger than ever. 

I see this challenge as an opportunity you've given me to grow. 

I've found an even greater appreciation for all those who I've allowed to gather at my table. My family, teammates, coaches, etc., have kept me on my feet when I felt the world had stopped turning. I channeled all my newfound energy towards encouraging my teammates during practice. 

You being out of my grasp has taught me a whole new perspective on this sport. I come to a greater understanding of the camaraderie, finding beauty in the struggle, and so many other wondrous aspects of this sport. 

My past perspective was making me lose sight of why I love this sport so much. But being deprived of you has given me a new and stronger why. Through recovery and all the adversity you've thrown at me, I've gained an unsurmountable belief in myself, strengthened my faith, and have bettered my mental fortitude. It's when we are challenged that we grow. 

And when you come back to me I will be stronger than ever, not only as a runner but more importantly as a person. I truly believe that. 

Thank you for helping me find me, 

- Brynn

Denton Guyer, '21