Students Hitting The Pavement

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By Lauren Shaw

“At first, running sucks,” said sophomore civil engineering major Kurt Rubenacker.

This sentiment is fairly common within the running community and maybe even more prevalent for those who choose to avoid the sport altogether.

But perhaps it just takes persistence and dedication. When she first started running, junior government and politics and Russian major Karina Panyan said she thought she would never be able to complete a full mile-and-a-half. Now she is ready to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Washington.

“I started training in January, and I’m so much more prepared now than I was then,” said Panyan.

Panyan followed a training schedule she found on and said many sites provide useful training materials. Social media sites such as Pinterest, she said, are also a useful resource for students looking to start running.

Focusing on finding a consistent pace has helped Tory MacKay, a sophomore hearing and speech sciences major, prepare for a half marathon. For the first two weeks, she wasn’t sure if she could accomplish this goal, but a four-day-a-week running schedule is keeping her on track to complete the upcoming Superhero Half Marathon in Morris Township, N.J.

“I never realized how hard it is to just find a good pace and not tire yourself out at the beginning,” said MacKay, who has never run a distance race before.  All of her previous running experience comes from playing sports in high school.

“Running a half marathon was on my bucket list, and one of my friends signed up for this one, so I decided to just go for it,” MacKay said. “I really just want to say that I did one.”

Rubenacker’s running career started when he joined a youth track club in fifth grade.  He later went on to run with his high school’s cross country and track teams.

“It just really clicked with me,” Rubenacker said.

Running can also help clear one’s mind after a long day at school or work, Rubenacker said. After a while, it becomes something to look forward to, he said.

“It’s also a good self-confidence booster,” Rubenacker said.  “After you know your body can complete a feat like this, you become more confident in yourself and your abilities.”

For Panyan, the first step was signing up for a half marathon. She knew it was something she always wanted to do, and actually signing up gave her the motivation to start training, she said.

Panyan is excited about her running future.  She said she hopes to complete a full marathon one day and would love to participate in an Adventure Marathon, in which runners travel to an exotic location, such as South Africa or Bagan, and race through world-famous scenery. The race package also includes daily activities and tours of the region, according to the program’s website.

“There’s a race where you run along the Great Wall of China, which would be incredible,” Panyan said.

MacKay, on the other hand, does not plan to run in any longer races.

“I might just stick to 5Ks in the future – I doubt I’ll ever do a half marathon again,” MacKay said. “But who knows? We’ll see what happens.”

“It takes time, forcing you to re-adjust your schedule, and it can be exhausting. However, it will be worth it in the end.”  -Kurt Rubenacker

Students who want to start distance running should plan a schedule early on and stick to it, Panyan said.

“It takes time, forcing you to re-adjust your schedule,” Rubenacker said. “And it can be exhausting. However, it will be worth it in the end.”

“It is possible,” said MacKay.  “I never thought I would do it at all.”

The city of College Park hosts the College Park Cares Race, a 5-kilometer race and 1.5-kilometer walk, each fall. A list of all upcoming races in the Metro area can be found on the Washington Running Report’s website,

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