By Faisal Al-Essa, Summer Times Staff Writer

It all started when a non-experienced 15-year-old decided to take part in a 10-kilometer run that was publicly advertised. So anxious to run, having only a little experience from school sports, and gym exercises. The distance was indeed long, especially for a young kid going on a long run for the first time. Fast forward to the day of the race. He drank lots of orange juice assuming it would give him the boost, and before he knew it the alarm went off and he was running. 

He was running and he kept running until he felt his stomach hurting — too much did he drink before the race; indeed he was naive. He didn’t give up, he managed to keep running and overcome the impediments. He ended up finishing the 10-K run in an hour and 12 minutes. That was the run that push-started his career; the run that made him want to pursue the lifestyle of an athlete, a multi-athlete, taking part in multiple sports. Running was one of the ways that kept him always active and as athletic as he could be. 

His name is Faisal Al-Essa, of Kuwait.

As I’ve been introduced, I’d like to get to the topic, running. Why run? Why tire myself? Why do something that I know would cause exhaustion? Questions people always have because they didn’t see for themselves what running can do and how it drastically changes lives. 

I started running because I enjoyed the reward after the end of each run. Besides the endorphin rush, I’d always have a goal to achieve. I’d challenge myself to run from home to a restaurant, a mall, a friend’s house and other far locations. Coming from Kuwait, I find distances differ compared to the states; what I mean by a friend’s house is a place in a completely different area or district. 

I kept challenging myself with running further distances, because with time the distances get easier and easier, and I honestly don’t have the best diet, which is why I mainly use running to reimburse my body with burning those unnecessary calories. I simply want to stay fit, and staying fit by running whenever I can. You see, running is doable anywhere anytime, unlike going to the gym or practicing some other athletics. I’ve traveled a long way and I still run in the states.

As I continued to practice I began to get more and more accomplished. The latest  was running my first full marathon, which is 42.2 kilometers in distance.I am very proud of this achievement, yet I keep striving for more.

Being here in Exeter, to keep practicing and improve my skills, I took on the elective sport cross-country running, a little different from regular trail running, as in Kuwait the terrain is mostly flat. Here we go on runs uphill and downhill, into the woods, going through grass and mud. It’s more challenging, yet it beneficial to improve. 

The runs here are really intense especially  because my sessions are at 3:00 p.m.when the sun is out; it’s very hot. I can’t beat the heat, but I try to cope with it to strengthen my endurance. I breathe consciously to moderate my heart rate, so I get a high tolerance to tiredness. For example, when I went on an indoor run today at the gym, that was air conditioned, I did 5 kilometers easily without feeling tired, whereras the other day when I ran outdoors, I ran 5 kilometers as well but it was more challenging, especially because of the steep slopes. The goal is at the end of the month is to run and keep running outdoors without breaking a sweat! Not literally of course but I want to be able to run in the heat with no difficulty. I began exercising with the heat in Kuwait, but back home in the summer, running in the day is just extreme. I run between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. so it’s a struggle. Yet I keep striving to overcome the challenges  and to be a better runner.

When I run; I challenge myself. The only opponent is myself. The only person I want to beat is myself. What all coaches I came across have advised me is that looking at the racer in front of me or next to me and pacing myself towards that factor leads to failure. That’s why I think everyone could run since they do it against themselves. I encourage you all to run to get enlightened as I did!