I swear I can still sometimes hear my coach screaming, “GET ON THE LINNEEEEEEEE.” It was his way of letting us know we weren’t trying hard enough, or that we hadn’t scored enough goals last game. In fact, it brings to mind one of the worst times of my entire soccer experience:

My teammates and I were forced to sprint down the field, each of us holding a soccer ball above our head and struggling to run without use of our arms. We ran lap after lap, and any ball that dipped below a forehead added time to the clock. It wasn’t long before tears were dripping down my face, and I thought I might die – not collapse, die. Try it, I dare you.

And when running wasn’t a punishment, it was a test – proof that we had kept in shape over the winter months, proof that we cared enough to make the roster again. Amidst tears and puking, it was a silent reminder that season was starting.

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Running was either a test or a punishment, nothing in between. And so, I ran for my sport, for my teammates, and for my coach, but never for myself.

After ending my soccer career for good, running was still an internal struggle. It was difficult to just put on my shoes and get out the door. It was even harder to push myself; I avoided competition at all cost, a constant reminder of soccer season.

It was when my sister and I showed up to our first NP_Chi workout that everything seemed to change. It is this group, these people, and this crazy movement created by a couple of goofs in Boston that have allowed me to overcome so much.

This whole “running” thing is no longer a punishment, or even a test. It taps into a part of me I didn’t know existed. The unrelenting love and support give me the confidence not only to run, but to race, to get better, and to excel.

I don’t think I even realized it until now, but I have grown to love to run. It has become my new soccer, my sport. My tribe members are my teammates, and my leaders are the nicest, wackiest, and best coaches I could have ever asked for. I may still shudder when I hear “GET ON THE LINNNNEEEEE,” but now I do so saying “FUCK YEAH!”

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~ Becky Greenberg

Learning to love running, without balls
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