Chasing a passion

Vicky Smith
Student Life Editor
@pinkwritinglady

In the book “A Gift – A Runner’s Story,” Paul Maurer writes, ““Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind and heart is turned to steel … when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each and every day with.”

Some people run to burn calories, increase their energy levels or travel from place to place. Cameron University’s cross country athletes Grant Wignall and Pascal Paintner run to live.

Wignall, a junior accounting major from Canada, and Paintner, a freshman business-management major from Germany, came to Oklahoma to join the Cameron Cross Country team.

Wignall said he started running seriously when he was a high school athlete in his home country.

“[In] grade ten,” Wignall said, “I decided, ‘OK if I like running, if I’m going to do running, why would I want to be mediocre at it? I should at least try to be a little better.’ So I joined a track club.”

Similarly, Paintner said he found enjoyment in running when he was a high school freshman.

“[When I was] 15 years,” Paintner said, “I started practicing harder and harder from year to year.”

The men are now capable of completing 15 miles in a day – with the normal schedule of attending classes, working, eating, sleeping and Skyping family.

Before they wear the medallions and smiles that conclude a race, however, they endure hours of training, preparing their bodies physically and minds mentally.

Wingall said in the fall, he completed three doubles per week, which is running eight to ten miles in the morning and four to five miles in the afternoon.

As a team last fall, the men met for practice every morning at 6:15, rain or shine.

“Usually,” Wingall said, “we run anywhere between eight to twelve miles in the morning, and then right after practice, we do strides … and then we go lift weights in the other gym for an hour or so … [We] usually have practice again at 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. Then after that, [we] do some stretching.”

To be a successful runner even under painful and difficult circumstances, Paintner said mental toughness is vital.

“If you want to run as hard as you can,” Paintner said, “you need to put your head off and just keep going … It starts with getting up in the morning [and] going for practice [when] it’s raining, it’s dark, it’s windy [and] it’s cold.”

Wignall said he thinks running cross country is more difficult for someone who is treading alone, though it is possible.

“I’ve always been in a track club or on a track team,” Wignall said, “so you always have some people who are just as fast as you to compete with and to really motivate you to run. … I think you get close people who you’re training with.”

According to Paintner, in addition to teammates, runners need people who are willing to support them.

“You have to have a really good base for performing good,” Paintner said, “giving 100 percent, achieving your goals … having a good coach to coach you, having good people who motivate you [and] having good people to help you out if you’re injured.”

Wignall said running a race requires relentless discipline.

“It’s really a sport where you can discover how much you can push yourself,” he said. “You find your true 100 percent limits.

“If you finish a race, you’re done … completely – your heart is going as hard as it can, [and] you’re breathing as hard as you can.”

Paintner said he will keep pushing himself even after he graduates from Cameron.

“I love running,” Paintner said. “My goal is, of course, always trying to get faster than the year before [and] putting more miles in.

“You build up year to year. Every year is like a little obstacle. … You always have to be consistent and always have … endurance. You have to tell yourself, ‘You have to be tough.’”

For those nervous to step on a track, Wignall said anyone can run.

“You just need a right plan with how to do it,” he said. “You just need to be motivated to do it. If it’s not something you like to do, then don’t do it. You can swim, [or] you can bike. You can do something you like to do.”

Paintner agreed, saying running is ultimately a head game.

“Once it gets tough,” he said, “you have to get over the limit. … Be motivated, be tough, be consistent, be ambitioned, and if you can do that, then you can be a great runner.”

According to Wignall, running is a part of his everyday routine by choice.

“I would say running is like a life passion,” Wignall said. “It’s like a lifestyle … “You can develop a true love for the sport.”

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