“I think some people never test themselves and do things that are hard or that make them uncomfortable. Sometimes that’s what running is to me.”
The “Race of Life” Inspires Rustan Crockett to Persevere
By Sarah Gooding
While Rustan Crockett would describe himself as an “average” runner growing up, he has enjoyed persevering for nearly 20 years in a continued pursuit to do his very best.
While the opportunity to participate on some good teams resulted in Crockett’s winning a few medals, his favorite medal was not won in a race and has less to do with running than with life.
The token medal was given to him by his aunt, who spent years as a missionary in the Philippines and India. The medal is simple, with a picture of a lane with a man running.
“She gave it to me and said the medal had to do with running the race of life – not just athletics, but doing a good job at being a human being,” Crockett said, adding that his aunt also shared Bible verses found in Matthew 6, reminding him not to store up treasures in this life, but to store them up in heaven.
In many ways, this is a reflection of Crockett’s ongoing approach to running.
“Sometimes I like running because I like to push myself and challenge myself,” he said. “I think some people never test themselves and do things that are hard or that make them uncomfortable. Sometimes that’s what running is to me.”
It also offers the comfort of the familiar – an ingrained pattern established through years of practice.
After running throughout high school, Crockett headed toward college at Missouri Southern State University and, a couple months into the school year, approached the cross-country coach about running as a walk-on.
“He was like, ‘Show up to practice tomorrow, and if you don’t quit, you make the team,’” Crockett said. “I showed up the next day, started running and didn’t quit.”
There, he pushed himself to continue pushing his limits, and even now that sense of “feeling fast” is something he pursues in his runs.
The present and future also weigh in.
“I teach elementary PE,” he said. “Since I’m teaching and preaching about making healthy choices to my students every week, I feel like I have to attempt to stay healthy myself, otherwise I’d feel like a hypocrite, convincing the kids to do something I don’t do.
“Also, I just exercise with my family and my future in mind. As my niece and nephews grow up, I want to be able to do anything with them, and someday if I ever get married and am fortunate enough to have kids, then I want to be able to run, play, horse around and explore with them and it not be hard on me.”
And while the long-term goals weigh in to Crockett’s running, each day brings something just a little different.
“I sometimes don’t like to run, and sometimes I run simply because it’s fun,” he said. “Sometimes I love running so much because it’s just such a pure thing to me. Whether it is just competition with a battle down the home stretch of guts and will or just a training run, it is just pure, and that’s the best way to describe it.”