It was a simple email survey. What Runner's World Magazine received in return, was vintage Addie Pulley.
Polling general fitness habits from its readers, the magazine asked Pulley her thoughts. What it received was a thorough, detail-oriented response from a bright and insightful college sophomore.
Pulley is now a published author. Her story appears in this month's Runner's World Magazine (runnersworld.com).
"Runner's World reached out and after reading my responses, asked if I would be willing to share my story,'' said Pulley, of Milan, and the valedictorian of the Class of 2017 at Alleman. During her recent Thanksgiving break, Pulley competed in the 5K portion of the Scott County Y McCarthy Bush Turkey Trot.
"I was apprehensive about doing it,'' Pulley added. But I hoped others would be able to relate and maybe encourage them to give running a chance as well.''
The Runner's World piece Pulley penned was well-written and from the heart. It brought to light her struggles as a shy middle-schooler looking for a path to social acceptance. Running, Pulley shared, helped her break out of her shell.
"I started running just to be involved in a sport with friends,'' Pulley said. "And then I fell in love with it.''
Running would become Pulley's safe space, the one thing outside academics that would gain her recognition. She would go on to become a standout cross country runner at Alleman, finishing in the top 20 statewide during her career.
Along the way, though, injuries would test Pulley and her finding the security she needed to become a well-rounded teen about to embark on college.
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"When I was injured, I lost all the confidence I had gained and was back in the same spot I was in when I was 12 years old: un-assured, ineffectual and alone. I couldn't rely on running to relieve my anxiety. I had fallen into the trap of attempting to make every run perfectly timed and on pace.
"And yet it was these testing times where I learned that a break from running didn't make me any less of a runner. As I battled through injury after injury, I gained much-needed perspective on the importance of balance in life,'' Pulley penned in her Runner's World piece.
Finally finding that balance would help Pulley have success running competitively while at Alleman and motivate her to chase her dream to attend the University of Notre Dame.
Today, Pulley is a sophomore majoring in accounting at one of the top universities worldwide, while serving as the manager for school's cross country team.
"Notre Dame is a challenging school both academically and athletically, and for me I knew it would be challenging to give 110% in both areas,'' Pulley said of competing in cross country for the Irish. "So academics won out for me. Running is still a huge part of my life and as a manager for the Division I team, I still get to be surrounded by the sport every day.''
On a perfect week, Pulley runs six of seven days. She includes yoga and strength workouts, her favorite ways to recover, when she takes a break from running.
Injuries, though, still happen, but these days Pulley is equipped with the proper mindset to deal with them.
"For me, it’s important to continue doing any cross training I can and focus on other activities I like, whether it’s reading, cooking or catching up on Netflix,'' Pulley said of injury-related downtime. "Having the support of friends and community when injured makes things a million times better, and the support system is what makes the world of a difference.''
Since finding the proper balance, Pulley says running is now her biggest form of stress relief. A desire to always find a better version of herself as an athlete drives her through tough runs. There are days, sometimes weeks, when she doesn't feel like running, but she says the feeling of finishing a run or a race always leaves her wanting more and to be a little bit better.
"It's the constant I have in my life,'' she said of running "Even on the hardest runs I enjoy the 30 minutes or hour that I get to take a break from school and stress to just go out and find some balance again.''
And the future?
"I would love to have a career in which I can combine my love for athletics and running with my skills in accounting,'' said Pulley, who always has a race or two lined up for when she returns home from school. "Without races and training goals, running can become monotonous. I always try to have a few races lined up, whether they are just for fun or to test my fitness.''
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.