T-Bird Tribune: Alison Pray on the Racing Process

Alison Pray

Alison Pray

One of the biggest misconceptions about running is its perceived “simplicity”. Over my years of running I have learned that there is so much more to running than just putting on some shoes and going as fast as you can.

Every day I put in hours of grueling work for a single purpose, racing. I go into a workout intimidated because I know it’s going to be painful. When it comes to racing it’s even worse because I know it has to hurt. 

When I step onto the starting line, next to my competitors, my nerves are overwhelming. A mixture of feelings have taken over while I wait in anticipation for the gun to go off.

The gun is shot, and I can feel a rush of adrenaline tingling through my body as I’m pushing my way through the mass of girls. 

Because my races are 6 kilometers long (3.73 miles) I have enough time to settle in and get comfortable. I start my races more controlled and paced so that I don’t use too much energy early on in the race, and in turn I can give more at the end.

As the race progresses, I start moving up in the pack. Now I’m using that stored energy to chase down the girls in front of me.

The whole time I’m in a mental battle with myself. I have to give myself mini pep talks just to get me through. I’ll say things in my head like, “Alison you’re fine. It’s hard but you can hold this pace. You’re tough.” or “It hurts now but if you slow down you’re going to be so pissed at yourself, don’t be a baby.”

Little comments like that, odd as they seem, keep me going. 

The end of the race is my greatest battle. I’m hurting bad, fighting every urge to stop. I’m doing everything in my power to make myself go even faster. 

The last stretch of the race comes down to who’s willing to feel the most pain. Everyone’s at their max speed fighting for the finish line.

Once I cross, I feel all the pain of the race hit me. Every ache and strain announces itself, but at the same time, I feel relief. Knowing that I completed the race and ran well melts the pain away. I love that feeling.  

The high I get after a great race is indescribable. It is the best feeling I’ve ever experienced. I go back and daydream about those races, reliving them in my head. That feeling makes all the hard work and pain worth it.

Running is a beautiful sport that tests me in a number of ways. It’s helped me on and off the field and I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to continue to run for Southern Utah University. 

Story by: Alison Pray
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics