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On Running: The Measurement of Time and Distance
The Measurement of Time and Distance
The days are getting shorter again. Have you noticed? The long evenings of summer are suddenly fading, and it reminds me that time is passing more quickly than I realized.
Of course, time is a constant; it ticks away at the same pace it always has. A minute is still sixty seconds, just like it was when the first flower bloomed in the spring. Distance is another constant; a mile is 1,760 yards away, no matter which direction you travel. It always has been and always will be.
Running brings these two great constants, time and distance, together. It's pure that way. Running, simply put, is about the measurement of time and distance.
There's something reassuring to me about that. I'm not sure what it is, but in a world that seems too complex, I'm glad that I can define my passion in simple terms.
And, yet, as simple as running may be, there is something complex about the runner. Each individual comes to running with different dreams, unique motivations and personal challenges. And, each one seeks to explore their own potential by measuring themselves against distance and time.
Discovering potential as a runner isn't easy; potential has a way of hiding itself. Sometimes, it can take years of hard work just to begin to recognize it. Then, even after decades of running, the runner never really knows if his potential has been reached, which may be why so many of us have a deep rooted need to keep running.
The purity of running and the complexity of the runner are things that transcend generations. Recently, I had a chance to meet a small group of young, dedicated runners. The discussion turned, as it does many times, to the subject of racing times.
In an instant, each one of us could appreciate the accomplishments of the others, because a mile and a minute are the same today as they were years ago, and because every runner understands what it takes to develop potential.
We all need to measure ourselves in one way or another. Some resist it, afraid of what the outcome might be, but I think they're selling themselves short. Almost without exception, each individual's potential goes beyond their own expectations, and potential can only be reached by those willing to measure their progress towards it.
Maybe runners have it easy. Time and distance are easy to measure. Personal growth, on the other hand, is harder to assess, but I've learned through running that growth in one way naturally leads to growth in another. After all, as you watch a tree reach ever closer toward the sky, don't you understand that the roots are growing stronger and deeper as well?
The transition between the seasons always reminds me that time keeps moving forward. Whenever that happens, I remember how important it is for me to define a destination and to measure my progress towards it.
I just met some young runners who are doing that. Are you?
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