By ADAM MAHLER
In the early hours before work, Kate McGinn ‘19 slips into her running shoes and heads into the chilly Rocky Mountain air. With headphones blaring beats of early 2000s nostalgia, she rolls into a jog down the dirt road. Something within compels her to be out here, alone. A casual observer might ask the same question that haunts the hearts of all runners from time to time: why?
McGinn wasn’t always a runner. Her first love was swimming, which for 16 years of her life was a wall to push against, a competitive endeavor to discover what she was capable of. But as she made the transition from swimming in high school to the varsity level at Colorado College, she had had enough of the sport. A broken leg midway through high school had stunted her progress and left her wondering if the pain and struggle was worth it.
“I didn’t think I was going to swim in college because I was at a point where I really hated the sport by the time I graduated high school. Swimming is a surprisingly competitive sport not only with yourself but also with your teammates. It was kind of a toxic environment,” she explained. Luckily, her teammates in college were much more laid-back and welcoming, but by the end of her freshman year, she knew her body was done. Other interests had pulled her attention away from swimming, and the rigid structure and relentless dedication of the sport had taken its toll. “I was tired of people telling me what to do,” she said.
Running had always been an activity McGinn used as a method to cross train for swimming, what swimmers call “dry land training,” but she never had the opportunity to just run. After quitting the CC swim team following her freshman season, her newfound free time and energy naturally manifested itself in running. “It was amazing because I was running and no one would know how fast I ran,” she said. “It’s a way for me to be active, but I don’t feel any of those stressful pressures that I felt at practice where I had to go under a certain time to impress a coach to swim at another meet.”
McGinn deplores the idea of using social media apps like Strava to broadcast her mileage and pace to the internet mob. Sixteen years of her life had been spent chasing numbers and the approval of others. Now, she’s off the clock. Rather than completing endless laps in a pool, she has the freedom to hit the trails and be alone in a more natural environment. “It’s great because it just gives you such an intimate relationship with yourself,” she said. “And at the end of the day, the other reason why I run is so I look hot.”
These days, her passion for running takes her for runs early in the morning. By the time her coworkers have hit the snooze button, McGinn’s already back from her run, drenched in hard-earned sweat. “How was the run?” I ask. She smiles. “Fantastic.”