Friday, August 19, 2011

The Gift of Running

   It's the tail end of August 2011 and I along with everyone else in Northeast Ohio is witnessing summer fade away. As much as I love Fall I'm always sad to see Summer leave. The heat this year has made training difficult but nonetheless I cherished every drop of sweat that fell into my eyes.

   The air is a bit cooler in the mornings. The sights and sounds of the local football teams gearing up for another season and the high school bands tuning their instruments for those all important Friday nights are all taken in on an early morning run. The Summer heat still warms the midday but the shadows from the trees grow longer, earlier as the days grow shorter. Running during this time of the year always makes me reflect. I'm not sure if it's because it's the beginning of the season change or something deeper but the isolation of a long run has the power to cleanse my mind and make me notice what road I'm are headed down.

   I have grown so much over the past eight months as a runner. I've been able to conquer more than I ever thought possible. From marathon training in the cold winter to finishing my second marathon with a pulled hamstring. Setting a new PR for a half marathon. Completing training runs in 100+ degree heat along with knowing when to cut a run short because it's just not safe.

   Growing stronger as a runner has without a doubt carried over to my life off the road. I attempt to learn something new about myself on every run and usually file away that lesson to use in my everyday life. The days where the running is tough I'll use that experience to allow me to grow. The training runs that are easy and effortless are savored and used to appreciate the small things in life.

   The most important lesson I've learned over the past eight months is that taking a chance on something is completely worth the risk. This was learned in the only half marathon I've run this year at mile 10. With 3.1 miles left in the race I decided to let go and open up my pace. In the past I've always been worried that I would run out of steam before the finish and be disappointed with the end result. I was always the one to maintain my even split and be content with my consistency. So in that brief moment at mile 10 I decided to open up and step on the throttle. Taking this chance and trying something new opened a new world for me. I finished the last 3.1 miles at a 6:03 pace and was completely spent when crossing the finish. That chance that I took paid off with a new PR (a 10 minute improvement) and more importantly the feeling of breaking my glass house and being free. Freedom to not be afraid to try something or go somewhere, freedom to not be afraid to let someone into my life, and freedom to let go of my perceived guilt's and the "what ifs" in life.

   Running is a gift that most people don't quite understand. Running can open your eyes and allow you to see clear. It can open your mind in order to make sense of murky life situations. Running also has the ability to open up your heart and fill it with passion, patience and love all of which runs short in life. Running gives you strength to take a chance and embrace all of the unknown that comes in this crazy sport we call life. So take a chance and open up your pace from time to time. The rewards are worth the risk both on the road and off and the lessons learned (successes and failures) are life moments to be embraced. Happy running and enjoy the gift of your feet hitting the ground and your heart opening to new experiences.