Dear Running: A Time To Buckle Down And Believe

Matt Strangio is a senior at Jesuit Catholic High School in Sacramento, California. He's been one of the country's most distinguished male distance athletes across his storied career, garnering three All-American finishes at Nike Cross Nationals, two CIF Division I cross country titles and two more state titles across the track and field season. He's run personal bests of 1:55.11 in the 800m, 4:08.07 in the 1,600m and 8:47.97 in the 3,200m and is headed off to the University of Portland in the fall. 

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By Matt Strangio - Jesuit High School

Dear Running, 

Right now, in this time of crisis, it is important to remember that this isn't how life is going to be for forever. 

There will come a time when we will race again -- whether it is sooner or later, no one really knows -- but the time will come. And I know that I am going to do everything I can to be ready for that day. Right now is the perfect time to buckle down and focus on training.

Now is the time to break through. Now is the time to do everything right. Right now, I have all the time in the world and I'm using it to become a better all around athlete. I'm stretching everyday and lifting weights consistently. I'm putting pretty much all of my efforts and energy into the sport that I love.

Running has been a pretty good distraction and I have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

I never even thought that I would be a runner until freshman year. If you asked pre-high school me what I wanted to be, I would have told you that I wanted to be a soccer player. My only experiences with running was my elementary school's jog-a-thon, where I ran the most laps in my grade for my six years of elementary school, and the middle and elementary school track and cross country teams, whose practices I would skip almost every day for soccer practice. I had fun, but it was mostly from winning at that point.

In eighth grade, my soccer teammate Talon Krieger convinced me to come with him to the Jesuit High School open house after practice one day. I had never heard of Jesuit, but I said yes anyways. I went to the open house and loved it, but my mind wasn't made up until I saw Jesuit win the section championship soccer game -- yup, I wanted to go to Jesuit to play on the soccer team.

At the time, I thought soccer would be my thing, but I signed up for cross country as a freshman anyway. And from day one of practice, I made some of my best friends, even though I was confused as to why everyone took off their shirts and became even more confused when the seniors asked me questions like "What's your favorite type of rock?," "What's your favorite body of water," and "Upstream or downstream?" After running varsity for the first time as a freshman, I quit soccer and decided to focus on the sport I had begun to love.

I found out, pretty much immediately, that running was much more than just trying to beat everyone else. I was introduced to and inducted into what can really only be described as a family. Every single guy on the team has value and that's what the older guys showed me my freshman year. They showed me that running was actually about the people you got to run with and against, and about the memories you made while putting in the miles instead of just beating people. I was blessed to have seniors like Ben Holland and Brendan Jones as my role models and my friends. They embodied what it was to be good teammates, friends, leaders, entertainers, and competitors; I would probably still be playing soccer if it wasn't for them.

I've always been a very goal-oriented person and my plan is still to end high school with a bang. I hope to break 4:00 in the mile, run 8:30 in the 3200, and beat Chase Gordon in an 800 one time (believe it or not this is probably the least likely to happen).

However, with the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, I may not get the opportunities to chase down those goals. On Saturday, we were given the final word, a devastating blow: Our meets have now been cancelled.

However, I do not plan on backing down and I know the lofty goals I have set for myself will help to keep me motivated.

There will come a time when we will race again -- whether it is sooner or later, no one really knows -- but the time will come. And I know that I am going to do everything I can to be ready for that day. 

For me it is easy; I find even running alone to be fun. I have amazing teammates to run six feet apart from every single day and we continue to train as if we have a track meet next week. I have an amazing coach who I know is always giving me the best workouts to achieve my goals, so I keep grinding in hope of an opportunity to race again this year.

For me, running is hope. I know that as long as I'm able to put one foot in front of the other that I'll be fine. Running is and always has been a light in a world of darkness. Running is something that I will always have no matter what. I take comfort in running and I can't wait to get back to tearing up tracks soon.

Life will go back to normal, I encourage everyone to safely prepare for that day. Take comfort in the runs that you do and the people you share those experiences with (if it's safe for you to be around people of course). Grind on and stay positive.

Go Marauders and Pilots, live the fourth, and stay safe everyone.


- Matt 



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