Going for Distance

Everyone has something they are passionate about, something they enjoy doing in their free time. For some, it’s sports, for others, it’s art, but for senior Nate Rousseau, it’s long-distance running. While Rousseau has only been running for a little over a year, it has quickly become something he enjoys greatly. During his time running, he has raced in a half-marathon and a full marathon, and he has plans for more.
Rousseau began running at the beginning of his junior year. “My dad just asked if I wanted to go run three miles, and it was the most challenging thing ever,” said Rousseau. “But I kept running into October and November. And then in November of that year, I ran a half marathon, which is 13 miles.”
During this time, Rousseau was working out with the physical fitness team. He wasn’t on the team, but he worked out with them to help keep in shape. “Then I set the goal that in March I would run the marathon,” said Rousseau. “I trained all through the winter, and it was so cold. I remember one of my hardest runs was on a Thursday. I was going out of town that weekend, but I was on a strict training program, so I had to run 20 miles before school. I got up at 3:30 in the morning and ran.”
For Rousseau, those runs were more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. “My legs were strong enough to hold up, but it was harder on my mind,” he said. “I just wasn’t going to quit at all.”
This mental aspect of running came into play during the Little Rock Marathon, which Rousseau ran this past March. “At mile 18, I cramped up,” he said. “My quads cramped and eventually my hamstrings cramped, and I had eight more miles to go. I was literally wobbling. My dad walked with me for eight miles while I hobbled to the finish line.”
It’s the mental challenge that Rousseau enjoys. “If you can run three miles, you can run six,” said Rousseau. “If you can run six, you can run 10. It’s just the thought of not knowing if you can do it or not. And then you do it, and you feel so accomplished. I will run an ultramarathon, which is 100 miles, in a couple of years.”
Rousseau didn’t have any training partners for the marathon, but he found that to be helpful. “There are these groups that run and train together for marathons, but I found that I can do it by myself,” he said. “There was one Friday night where I started at seven o’clock at night, and it was like 30 degrees, and I ran 18 miles by myself. You can get in your mind when you’re running a really long distance. You can just think about stuff, and you forget you’re running.”
Rousseau is not the only one to enjoy running. Athletic director Mr. Tim Ezzi used to run a lot, both as a sport and recreationally. “In high school, we were required to run track,” said Mr. Ezzi. “All athletes had to run track in the spring. Basketball guys like myself and football guys, we all had to run distance.”
After high school, Mr. Ezzi shifted from running competitively to running for fun. “I didn’t do any races or anything, I just did it because I enjoyed it,” he said. “I would get the old runner’s high. Distance just depended on how much time I had, it could be three miles or ten miles.”
Rousseau has seen multiple benefits in embracing the challenge of running marathons. “You gain confidence in having achievements like that,” he said. “It’s changed my mindset completely. I’m a lot more productive.
“On the first day of school, you know, everyone’s nervous to come to school,” said Rousseau. “I ran five miles before school, and I felt great after that. It’s kind of therapeutic as well. It organizes your life so much. Winning in the morning is the best thing ever. Running helps win the morning, and if you win in the morning, you’ll feel so much better.”

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