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Developing Runner's Mindset -- Common App Essay for Stanford


JJlu 5 / 9  
Oct 15, 2010   #1
Common App Essay for Stanford. It is my first draft and I would appreciate any critique/suggestions for my 2nd revision.

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By the end of freshman year, my best mile in track was 6:40. Everyone else was well under six. I frequently finished last in races. I became convinced that my body wasn't built for sports, and that I simply wasn't athletic. At that point, I only stayed in track because running helped me stay in shape.

Or so I tried to tell myself.

It really bothered me. I usually would spend the last minute or so of each race not only straining to finish, but also feeling sorry for everyone else who had to wait for me to cross the finish line. I wanted to do better, but didn't quite know how.

During my sophomore year, I had not made much improvement either. I still had to return early from our off-campus distance runs, because I could not finish the full workout with the team. I was improving, but not at the rate I wanted. My time dwindled to a low six-minute by the end of that year.

My junior year, I finished my first race with a 5:53; a significant feat. I was finally under six with everyone else. It forced me to reconsider my perception of my athletic ability.

My attitude changed immensely. I began to realize that it wasn't that I couldn't finish those distance workouts, but that I was able to not finish them.

I returned with the team from each run thereafter.

I developed an emotional attachment to running, and it quickly turned into an obsession. I came to practice not because I wanted to shed a few pounds, but because I wanted to run. Running was the test of my new mindset that I could do whatever I put my mind to. If I could start with a modest mile time, and trim it down to something more extraordinary, then I believed there was nothing else I couldn't do.

My best time so far is 5:35. Although it was not the most impressive time on my team, it was quite an accomplishment to me. However, my greatest achievement was overcoming my old mindset, which stunted my growth as a runner. Previously when I began to hurt during a run, I would have eventually given up, because I hadn't yet trained myself to endure the pain. But my junior year, once I became determined to finish each workout with the team, my tolerance for pain increased.

This mindset-the mind's resistance to the body's desire to slow down or stop-applies not just to running, but almost anything in life. We cannot reach our full potential if we persist in our comfort zone. It is this perseverance and the determination to finish that leads to our successes.

This year I plan on ending my senior year with a sub-five minute mile. I know it's possible. I had finally overcome the last barrier-myself.

EF_Kevin 8 / 13,365 129  
Oct 18, 2010   #2
those distance workouts, but that I was able not to finish them.

not able to finish...

My best time so far is 5:35.

Oh! You win. Your essay made me think back to my days of track, and I see that you beat my best time by 15 seconds. Oh well...

This essay has a great theme. I wonder if you can add a sentence to tell how that meditative runner's state of mind can help in your chosen career. That will show that you have your vision for the future in mind.

In your practice, have you ever noticed that the motion of your elbow & arm swinging backwards is just as important as the motion of your elbow & arm swinging forwards? Both the forward and backward swing drive you forward, and I think starting to pay some more attention to my backward arm swing has improved my time! Try it if you have not already...

:-)
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,365 129  
Oct 27, 2010   #3
This is looking good. I guess I think you should eliminate the sentence fragment by putting this with paragraph one... as part of the same sentence, after a dash:

in track because running helped me stay in shape -- or so I tried to tell myself.

:-)
Weekyl 2 / 10  
Oct 27, 2010   #4
"My attitude changed immensely. I began to realize that it wasn't that I couldn't finish those distance workouts, but that I was able to not finish them."

I had to think about this one for a little before I understood your meaning. Consider revising.

Get more in depth: What clicked in your mind that made you get better? What was the turning point? Describe your workouts in detail, and describe a specific event that improved your mindset as a runner. Don't just say "I got better," or "it became an obsession." The admissions officers probably read that every single day.
whomp123 6 / 36  
Oct 27, 2010   #5
I agree with Weekl. I'm a little confused as to what sparked your obsession with running?


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