Clark's Journey to Recapturing Her Love For Running

Running was her first love, and it was not without its heartbreak. 

"I remember many times questioning my training, wondering why I was still running, and thinking that it was not worth it anymore," Rebecca Clark said. 

The Villages senior started running competitively back in 2012 and has been one of the top names in the state ever since. 

Year by year, Clark has been incredibly consistent in her performance -- adding numerous district and regional titles to her name. She fell in love with running and she fell hard. 

Clark took her 28 minute 5k back in the sixth grade, down to an 18:30 over the course of two years. Then down to a 17:55 the next year as a freshman in high school. She was on top, showing the state what she was made of, and she continued to do so.

Clark kept improving. Week after week, season after season, she was putting a new PR on her record books. The same sport that fueled her -- inspired her to pursue greatness -- broke her heart. She hit a wall. 

"Most of my PRs were from middle school until just recently," Clark said. 

A Breakthrough 

Clark had goals - times and places she wanted to reach, but this seemingly immovable wall was in her way. It just would not come down. Then a breakthrough happened. 

"You have to have faith in your training and your coach," said Clark. "If you continue to work -- the results will eventually come." 

Clark started her senior cross country season with a time of 18:44, the next week she ran an 18:06. On the difficult Holloway Park course she ran an 18:11. At the Last Chance Invite, Clark ran a breakthrough race of 17:28 in one of the most competitive races of the season. This past weekend she won her region in another sub 18 minute performance. 

A few days after her 17:28 performance, Clark announced her commitment to Florida State University

"After being on the FSU campus, meeting Coach Kelly, and all of the girls I just knew it was the perfect place for me," Clark said. 

The future exercise science major desired a program that she would have chemistry with the team and faith that the program would bring her to the next level. FSU sealed the deal. 

Imagining The Future

Clark will join a group of talented women, many she has already competed against from high school. The future seminole's training will now be under Coach Kelly Phillips

In Phillips third season for Florida State, she has led the seminoles to a fourth place ACC finish and had the top five ladies in the top 44 at the conference meet this season. Phillips has been a strong leader for the FSU ladies and has put Florida State back on the distance running map. 

"I had the feeling that everyone talks about and I am beyond excited to become a Nole," Clark said. 

This weekend Clark will continue her breakthrough season, this time on her future home course. She will watch her future teammates race NCAA regionals the day before and imagine her future racing with a team in garnet and gold. 

Clark will continue her journey towards learning to love running again and it won't be without the help of her coach and brother, Troy Clark. 

"I am so thankful for my brother. He is the one that first got me into the sport, has supported and guided me in every aspect of my life, and has coached me since my junior year," said Clark. "Troy helped me fall back in love with running." 

Clark fell in love with running, the experience was not without it's heartbreak, but her parents and support system encouraged a love for the sport, despite performance. 

That is the beauty about falling in love with running -- it's about falling in love with the journey running has to offer, embracing the heartbreak, and learning to be thankful for the experiences that it brings. 

"There is always...always something to be thankful for," Clark said.