Anthony Romaniw is a runner who has represented Canada at the Olympics in the 800m. He also happens to be pretty passionate about books and writing.
“Running is a lifestyle.” I hear that often. These words fly out of my mouth too when I summarize my day-to-day. It sounds cliché, and boring. I think many people feel that to dive into the fine details in conversation is to bore the listener – even if it’s those details that represent who you are and what fulfills your daily life. I feel that there’s a story within these fine points though – that’s actually what makes you appealing to others. That’s also what keeps others captive in conversation. My life is defined by my running because for me, yes, it’s a lifestyle but it’s also a philosophy and an art-form.
My name is Anthony Romaniw. I was born and raised in Hamilton. I attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire for two years before transferring to the University of Guelph in 2012. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2014. Truth be told, I pretty much double majored in running and reading science fiction. I still live in Guelph, in a house that sits in the midst of a tangle of decent trails. It’s down the street from a library and bookstore. It’s all very cozy and very much my style. Guelph has become my second home and I’m happy to say I’ve made a career as a professional runner while training here. This is where I lived and ran when I qualified for the Rio Olympics in the 800m.
The first thing any pro runner will tell you is that you need a hobby after you graduate. “Cabin Fever” becomes all too real when you dedicate most of your time to optimizing training and recovery. The mind and the heart need a break from that isolated focus – a space to wander so to speak. For me, that hobby is writing. The process of putting my words right out there in front of me has forced me to try to see the story through the details of others’ actions. It quickly became clear to me that every part of my being has come in contact with running at some point. Because running is such a big part of who I am, I see the world through its lens.
The impact the sport has had on me is immense: it has harnessed my strengths, assaulted my weaknesses and forced me to change constantly. It has also been frustrating. There have been so many times when I cursed the sport for requiring so much from me and never giving back in return. The demands are constant and at times, they seemingly dwarfed the rewards. It took me a while to appreciate how important a lesson that would turn out to be.
I think that there is an appetite in the running community to talk about the sport in this way; to use it as a framework for the greater story happening in our lives. What brings runners together is the fact that we have all chosen to express ourselves through this very specific pursuit.
So now I’m starting this regular blog and fusing my two passions. Here, in this space, I’ll write about how I’ve grown through running emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and as a friend, companion and someone who has faced anxiety and depression too.
When I was a kid, my sister used to wear this T-shirt with the words “Dance is a sport. Dancers are athletes,” printed on the front. My ten-year-old macho self thought that was laughable. Now, I chuckle because I think it would have been much better to praise dance for being a work of art. Having since become an elite level runner, I think the highest compliment you could give an athlete is to tell them that their performance was a work of art. I hope this blog will be an affirmation of that. Hey, life would be pretty boring if beneath all the details our pursuits had no heart.