Past Francis Marion University cross-country team captain Ben Miller’s passion for running has influenced his life.
Before Miller began to run for a cross-country team, he was a soccer player. He began playing soccer at a very young age.
Miller said that he remembers starting soccer sometime in elementary school, but he doesn’t remember exactly what influenced him to play.
When Miller first started to play soccer, he played for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). He said that he remembers really enjoying playing in the AYSO league.
“It was a whole league in itself, and it had all of these teams that were basically coached by volunteer coaches,” Miller said. “You just went around and played games; the league was really fun.”
After Miller grew out of that league, he started playing for a league that was designed for players who wanted to play soccer at big colleges. It was specifically geared towards kids who went to schools without soccer teams.
“We would go all over the country and play,” Miller said. “And that was fun, but it got to where it was really expensive, and we would have to drive for hours and hours just to play a game. And then it wasn’t fun anymore, because they were so hardcore.”
During seventh grade, Miller decided that he was going to stop playing for the traveling soccer league and start running track for his high school.
“I thought, ‘Well, my school doesn’t have a soccer team, and I am not going to play soccer with my league anymore,’” Miller said. “So running seemed like a good option, because I could always run well. So I figured why not?”
Miller started running for Chesnee High School during eighth grade. After he started to run, he loved it and decided to stick with it.
Miller ran his eighth grade year on the Junior Varsity team. From his ninth grade year on, he ran for the varsity team. During his final two years at Chesnee High, he was one of the team captains of his team.
While Miller was running for his high school, he reset all of their records for running except for the two mile.
“I don’t know about any more, but at the time I held the records for the 800, the mile, the 4×8 team race, the 3k, the 5k, the 10k, and the marathon,” Miller said.
Miller found out about FMU through a letter that a coach sent out to him while he was in high school. When he received the letter, it piqued his interest, and he requested more information about FMU.
Eventually, Miller got to visit FMU, and he was immediately attached to the small-town feel of the campus. He liked how FMU was a smaller campus, and that it wasn’t spread throughout a city.
“We arranged a visit, and I came down, and I just fell in love with it,” Miller said. “And then I was dead set on coming here.”
During Miller’s first year running at FMU, he started to settle in and adjust to his new surroundings.
“My first year at FMU was a good extension from high school,” Miller said. “I didn’t improve too much my first year because of some of the big adjustments I had to make.”
One adjustment that Miller noted was that he had to change coaches after running with the same one for six years. Another difference that he encountered was the difference between running the 5k and the 8k. “Some people say that it is the same race with just a couple more miles,” Miller said. “Yeah, it is that, but you have to run it differently. You can’t just attack it the same way as a 5k.”
After Miller’s freshman year, he went home to the upstate and started to train on hills. During his sophomore and junior year, Miller showed improvement in both track and cross-country.
“During my senior year, I fell off a little bit because of my dealings with the nursing program,” Miller said. “And then I got more involved with the GSA and other organizations and kind of shot myself in the foot by trying to take on too much.”
Miller showed more improvement in track than cross-country his senior year. His full nursing schedule prevented him from training with his cross-country team. Track was easier for Miller to train for by himself.
Miller’s favorite thing about running is the feeling that he gets from doing it. He said that he loves to run while listening to music.
“The feeling I get after I run makes me feel stronger and better,” Miller said. “It helps me relieve stress and free my mind.”