On Running: The Exhilaration
I look back on my childhood as one of the happiest times of my life. Outside my house, the world was a playground and I was always happy there, playing and running. It didn't matter if I was chasing a ball, racing to a base or playing spotlight, there was an exhilaration that came from running. I still remember the peaceful fatigue I felt when I was called inside for the night. It stayed with me until I found my bed and woke up fresh the next morning.
As a high school freshman running became my sport. Then, the ball, the base and the hiding places were replaced by a finish line. But, the exhilaration was still there and the satisfying fatigue was the same.
Like all high school kids, I needed to define myself. When the world shined its spotlight on me, I needed to be able to stand up and say - this is who I am. Day by day, running gave me that definition, and by the time I graduated my name was synonymous with runner, and I liked that.
The Bull Run Invitational was held again this year at Hereford High School. One of the premier cross-country meets in Maryland, more than a hundreds schools were represented.
The teams were camped out all over, and kids rested under their tents until it was time to warm up for their race. The gun sounded every half hour and a couple hundred runners would race the course. They quickly stretched themselves out over the field and the talent and dedicated training showed itself.
As I watched that day, I saw kids defining themselves, just as I had done so long ago. I watched the satisfaction of achievement, saw the resolve to try harder the next time, and was impressed with the leadership and the sportsmanship I saw.
In the next few years, each of those kids will graduate from high school. As they move on, something from that day will stay with them. Something that defines who they are will have formed.
Soon enough, just like you and I, they will find themselves in a life filled with responsibility. They will have families, careers and mortgages. They'll go to bed each night thinking about the chores of the next day and hope for a time when life will become easier.
But, perhaps, some of them will still lace up their running shoes and find a quiet hour just for themselves. They will build on the solid qualities they developed in high school and find satisfaction in the daily exhilaration of effort. The confidence, pride and calm that comes with running will make life better.
When was the last time you went outside to play? When was the last time you laughed on the playground outside your front door? It's still there. Run on it. Find something familiar in the fatigue you carry to your bed. Rediscover something that use to define who you are.
No matter what you might think, it isn't life that places limitations on us. We do that ourselves. So, imagine that the bell just rang for recess. It's time to play.
Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to high school and adult runners of all levels. Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.