Isaac Ghareeb finds his passion in running


Head up. Shoulders back. Legs burning. For freshman Isaac Ghareeb, running is more than just a sport. Running is his passion.

“Running is one of my favorite things, just because I’m so good at it,” Isaac said. “It’s a great feeling. It’s painful, but I love the feeling and the pain it gives me. Your muscles get weak, and you have to work. You actually have to work.”

Isaac has been in both cross country and track since seventh grade. Despite the relatively short time he’s been running, it has become, without a doubt, a significant part of his life.

It was his parents who first suggested it, after he proved himself to have great endurance. They challenged him to run up a sand dune, and in turn, Isaac completed the challenge five times over. He ran up and down the slope throughout the day, and afterward, his parents were convinced he should join cross country.

In the beginning, running was a sport that Isaac took with moderate effort and minimal skill. It wasn’t until eighth grade that he figured out the best way to run, and it was then that he made the decision to adopt running as one of his sports. This was in part thanks to Isaac’s favorite coach, Nils Eastburg, who took over as being the track coach that year.

“It all just got so much more serious,” Isaac said. “I got so much better at it when that happened. I enjoy it because now, in the race, I can beat people, whereas in seventh grade I was just losing every single race.”

Now, Isaac has improved so much, and even received a varsity letter after the race in Allendale.

“The weather was perfect; there was no sun,” Isaac said. “It was really flat, and that’s where I got my best time. I felt great running through the whole thing, so when I got to that final one-hundred meters I felt like I was on top of the word and just sprinted the rest of it. It was the greatest feeling of all time. As soon as I looked up and saw my time, my jaw dropped. I was like, “Wow, I just got a varsity letter from one race.a�� That was really cool. I wasn’t even close [to winning]. I was like sixtieth out of a hundred and fifty or something like that– that’s really good.”

And it isn’t just his coach who’s influenced how Isaac runs, but his fellow runners as well.

“Especially [senior] Nick Agrillo [has influenced me],” Isaac said. “He never likes the phrase, “nice job,a�� because it doesn’t push you to go any farther. I’ve kind of adopted that. He taught me that whatever people say you’re doing, you can go faster, you can go harder, you can go the extra mile.”

Isaac is good friends with his teammates, despite the fact that they all compete against each other in the races. While it may seem obvious that working together as a team creates the strongest drive to win, Isaac knows that being competitive with each other can be just as motivating.

I love running more than a lot of things– more than anything, basically.”

— Isaac Ghareeb

“Usually you pair yourself up,” Isaac said. “You try to catch the person in front of you like, “Yeah, I’m going to try and catch him today.a�� Then if you catch him, you try to catch the next guy, and so on and so forth. In practice I think, “Yeah, I’m going to beat him today, and I’m going to beat him in the races.a��”

Along with the incentive to beat his teammates, Isaac always has his family to cheer him on during his races as yet another motivator to win. His parents rarely miss a game, and his older sister goes whenever she can.

Although his family will not hesitate to go and watch his races, Isaac has been unable to get them to join him whenever he runs in his free time.

“[My family] will not ever [run with me],” Isaac said. “They’ll never do it.”

Thankfully, he has friends that are more than happy to run with him, even when he isn’t in the mood.

“If I’m bored,” Isaac said, “and I don’t want to run that day, maybe my foots hurting, I’ll go outside and hang out with my friends. They’ll be like, “Isaac, let’s just run two laps around the block,a�� [and I’ll say,] “Okay, fine,a�� and I go do that. My life will involve running almost every day.”

The majority of the time, however, Isaac will jump at the chance to run. He even considers it a reward for finishing any other work that needs to be done.

“I just love running,” Isaac said. “I love running more than a lot of things– more than anything, basically. Running is my favorite thing to do. During the summer, I’ll run every day because I don’t have anything else to do. If I get my homework done in time, and basketball practice, then I’ll think, “Yeah, I can go to the YMCA and run a little bit.a�� So I reward myself with [running], and it’s my drive to do a lot of things.”

On top of it being a way to reward himself, Isaac also uses running as a way of calming down when he feels stressed or angry.

“If my parents are getting on my nerves a little bit, I’ll be like, “Okay, I’ve got to take myself out of this situation. I’m going to go run for fifteen minutes,'” Isaac said. “That’s happened many times.”

It’s also helped him in other ways. Isaac is amazed at how much more stamina he has now and finds it’s much easier to play his third favorite sport, basketball, thanks to how much he runs.

“I was lazy in seventh and eighth grade,” Isaac said. “I can stay on the court longer [now]. Everyone else has hands on their knees, tired, and I’m ready to go sprinting down the court.”

It may still be early in his running career, but he’s already sure that he’ll be running for a long time to come. It’s obvious that running has changed him and helped him a lot. On a more personal level, Isaac even believes that running has made him a better person.

“I think I would be a lot more of a jerk if I didn’t run,” Isaac said. “I would be a lot lazier; I wouldn’t be in good shape like I am now. I wouldn’t be as good at basketball because I can run up and down the court a million times and not get tired– I wouldn’t be able to do that. I wouldn’t have anywhere to go if I’m mad. All the things that make running amazing wouldn’t happen anymore.”