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On Running: Something Firm to Hold Onto

On Running
Something Firm to Hold Onto

Sometimes, the pace of change startles me, and as I parked the car I couldn't help but think about the news on the radio. It wasn't long ago that we were hearing words like stability and prosperity and suddenly there's a crisis to deal with.
In times like these, I need something firm to hold onto. Ever since I can remember, running has provided that. When life has brought me sadness or heartache, hardship or insecurity, running has always given me a foundation of security. On this particular day, I needed just a little something more, so I drove to an old fire trail that remembered from years ago.
The trail is surrounded by miles of wooded acres and as my run found a tempo I tried to recall the things I was about to pass. When I was younger I lived close by, and the trail had been a frequent training route.
Even before then, as a boy, I shared the trail with my grandfather. We would walk until we found the lake and then search for beavers along the shoreline. I passed the spot where we would find trees lying along the pathway, casualties of the beaver's work.
As I ran, the sun danced on the water and I stopped worrying about the news on the radio, but I began thinking about how much time had passed since I'd last moved passed that water. In the years since, I had met my wife and we had started a family. We worked hard to build a life, make a home and raise our kids. Now, they are nearly adults and on their own personal journeys toward independence.
With several miles behind me I remembered a place where I used to stop and stretch. I started looking for it as the path turned away, and then back down toward the water.
When I came to the spot I was looking for I stopped and walked down to the edge. There, a large rock stood against a quiet cove. I climbed onto it and listened to my breathing settle down.
The place was exactly as I remembered it. The full trees formed a barrier on the opposite side of the lake, as if to say "There's enough beauty right here is front of you. No need to look any further." A breeze rippled the surface and fish played in the deep water under the rock.
For a few moments, it was like no time had passed at all; I was still twenty years old and seeing it all for the very first time. It felt good to stay there for a while.
There was something different about the run back. I was surrounded by stability, it seemed like the path had been untouched since I left it. Being there helped me realized that, despite the passing years and the events surrounding me, I was mostly unchanged myself, much like the aged trees that I ran past. Something about that reassured me and made me ready for whatever the news would be on the drive back home.
Just before the run was over, as I was about to turned away from the lake, I saw beavers swimming near the shoreline.

Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching runners of all levels. Contact Dave at

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