Dear Running: Time Is Not Guaranteed But A Privilege

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Serena Summers is a high school junior from Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Now in her third year of track and field, Summers has claimed personal best times of 6:08.33 for 1,600m and 13:23.42 for 3,200m. Summers penned this powerful Dear Running essay for MileSplit. 

Dear Running,

Running -- just like life -- is really, really messy.

This is the lesson that I have learned over the past year. I think it is so hard to stick with running because it mirrors the ugly and uncomfortable parts of life. The ups, the downs and the just-wing-its all blend into an intimidating stew that becomes your running journey.

Growing up, everything is set in stone. People are good or people are bad or people are weird and you just have to deal with it. Running changed the stone and put it into motion. Just like people are good and bad and weird, running can be all three things, too: incredible and challenging and awful. 

While a lot of people like to cover up the bad days, I think the bad days are what show us humanity in this mechanics-is-everything sport. Races are hard, practices are hard, PRing is hard -- but what's even harder is giving up on potential and letting yourself down time and time again.

The bad days are what create the good days and what paves the path to why you run. 

Running also forces you to advocate for yourself. 

In my running journey, I have experienced many situations where I have had to choose between myself and others, or my future and my present. Being able to know my physical toughness helped build my mental toughness, and at the end of the day, I learned that I will always choose myself and my future -- not out of selfishness, but out of advocacy. 

Lastly, running has never been about the finish line. 

In the running community, we like to pretend that the times are what really matter and that the PRs are what truly makes this sport so intoxicating, but in reality it's not.

We run to experience the journey, and to push ourselves physically and mentally for ourselves. We run and create bonds with people we would've never known without it. We run because time is not guaranteed, but a privilege and in a way runners honor the power of time by racing against it. 

These are the lessons I'm holding close to my heart this season, and you should too!

With love,

Serena Summers

Cedar Ridge High School

Class of 2025


USA Today



If you are a track and field athlete or coach interested in contributing to this series at the state or national level, please send your essay to MileSplit USA editor Cory Mull at, or to your local MileSplit editor in your respective state.