Every time he steps up to the starting line, Peter Runge is at a psychological disadvantage.
Or, at least that’s the way The Out-of-Door Academy junior mentally approaches each race. Runge has been competing for the Thunder since seventh grade, but, even after years spent developing his talent, the moments leading up to the start of any race can prove daunting.
It isn’t until after the race is finished that Runge is able to relax and dissect it piece- by-piece.
“I get in my head a lot; and I get stressed before I run,” Runge says. “I feel like I’m not using my talent if I don’t outdo myself (each time). It’s a fear I have before I start running, but once I start running it all goes away.”
Runge began running when he was 5 years old, following in the footsteps of his father and former ODA track coach, Joe Runge, who ran in both high school and college.
At the time, he would jump over hurdles made out of PVC pipes in his backyard.
“That was my dad’s race,” Runge says. “I guess you could say then I wanted to try those out because he used to talk about it.”
Since then, Runge, who competes in both cross-country and track for ODA, has left the hurdles behind and developed into one of the Thunder’s most talented distance runners. But, although his talent level speaks for itself, Runge tends to shy away from the spotlight.
“I used to not talk at all when I went to practice,” Runge says. “I’m kind of quiet. I never really thought of myself as a leader — a quiet leader, I guess.”
Last fall, Runge made his second consecutive trip to the FHSAA Cross-Country State Finals where he finished 35th overall in 17:08.90. It’s a race he’s grown accustomed to running and one he prefers.
“I like cross-country more because everyone does the same race,” Runge says. “You aren’t comparing with anyone else. We’re all equal.”
Although he enjoys the cross-country race, Runge is slowly transitioning himself into more of a middle-distance runner — focusing predominately on the 400 and 800 meters.
Runge began running the 4x800 relay in eighth grade and picked up the 400 last year. At the end of practice, all of the runners got together for one fast 400. Runge ran it in about 54 seconds, and at that point he decided to add the race to his resume.
“That was kind of nice,” Runge says. “I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I try that?’
“I like the 400,” Runge says. “It’s over a lot faster. I also like the 4x400 relay. It’s kind of nice to not just run for yourself sometimes.”
On Feb. 12, Runge ran the 4x400 and 4x800 relays, and he set a new personal best time in the 800 (2:10.20) at the ODA Quad Meet.
Runge is hoping to drop his times in the 400 and the 800 with the goal of returning to the FHSAA 1A-Region 3 track and field meet and perhaps advancing to the FHSSA Track and Field Finals April 26.
Last season, Runge finished ninth in the 1600 at the regional meet.
“I guess I’m just trying to outdo myself and beat my times,” Runge says. “I want to do better every time I run.”