Tara Erdmann ’11: Why I Run

A seven-time All-American in cross country and track, Erdmann represented LMU at the U.S. Olympic Trial Qualifiers in both 10,000 and 5,000 meters. Erdmann started her LMU career by taking home both West Coast Conference and LMU Freshman of the Year accolades before capping her time on campus with back-to-back LMU Female Athlete of the Year selections in 2010–11 and 2011–12. Erdmann set four school records in the 2010 track season and held Division I’s fastest 10k time in 2011. (See “Tara Erdmann Runs for LMU.“)

I was never a runner. With a closet full of shin guards, cleats and soccer socks, running shoes were what I threw in my bag for soccer conditioning.

Not until my sophomore year in high school did I put on running shoes for a cross-country practice. My coach told me to go for an easy 40-minute run with the team, to see how I’d do. I felt like a deer in the headlights, because I didn’t know the route. So I started running with the top girl, a state cross country champion. Now I know that “short“ run was the start of a path that would lead to LMU.

Today, running is completely part of who I am. It provides me with joy, structure, commitment and hardship, all of them juggled and constantly in motion.

In balancing academics, athletics and having a job, I have learned time management and the importance of “to-do list” sticky notes. I am a student for 24 hours a week and an athlete for 20 hours, and I work another 10 hours. I thrive on a busy schedule. When I have a rare day with nothing on my calendar, I still like to make sticky notes, just so I can scratch items off and feel as though I have accomplished tasks! Being a student-athlete has kept me focused on academics and my sport because I know that if I want to succeed in both areas, choices have to be made.

Running has become a spiritual part of my life. When I think about the gifts, talents and opportunities God has given me, motivating myself to train hard every day is simple. Knowing the talents we possess is the easy part; developing those talents to the best of our ability is the hard part. When I committed to LMU, I promised myself that I would develop my talents and not waste what God has given me. I am grateful each day for the opportunity to obtain a great education and do what I love.

The competitive aspect of the sport is addicting. Every time I step onto the track for a race, I can almost guarantee that I will run faster than my previous personal best. For me, it is about withstanding pain at a higher level of tolerance than before. There are no timeouts or halftime breaks in my sport — it is all or nothing. When I am finished with LMU, my path will continue from where it started six years ago. But now I call myself a runner.