On Running: The Discipline of the Summer

On Running
The Discipline of the Summer

There were ten of us, nine girls and me. The girls were all members of the same high school cross-country team.
It was June, and I was explaining the importance of summer running for teams that wanted to succeed in the fall. We talked about the importance of developing a base of fitness so that their high school coach would be able to build on that base when practice began in August.
We talked about how setting goals is the first step on the pathway to success and how discipline is what keeps you on that path. I told them that long-term goals require sacrifice, but that the sacrifice is always worthwhile in the end.
And, then we ran.
That was five years ago and the beginning of the Flying Feet Summer Running Program. One of those nine girls was my daughter, and I wanted her team, and other local cross-country teams, to have a structured running program for summer training.
You might call it a meager beginning, but I don't think those girls would call it that. They went on to accomplish great things in the fall, much more than anyone would have expected. Anyone, that is, except the ten of us.
The program has evolved a bit since then. It has gotten larger each year and last summer featured a diverse group of high school, college and adult runners. I've continued to teach the same lessons about goals, discipline and sacrifice and each year I've watched as people develop a new passion for running.
It's not easy waking up early on a Saturday morning when everyone else is still sleeping, but it helps to know that others are already gathering and waiting for you. It's not easy getting past the early, stiff strides, but it feels good to move into the rhythm of a run. And, when the run is over, there's something special about the sense of pride you feel, knowing how much has been accomplished while everyone else has yet to even start their day.
Runners in the summer program go through the same process many times over the summer. We gather in the heat of the evening when staying home in cool air seems more appealing. We run in summer rain, when everyone else is watching it fall from the other side of a window.
A bond develops as we run beside one another, and mutual respect grows as each runner comes to appreciate the effort of the others. And, when the program winds down in the shorter days of August, there is something in many of the runners that wasn't there before, a stronger foundation and bigger dreams.
Today, another Flying Feet Summer Running Program begins. There will be new runners who for the first time hear me talk about the important principles that running teaches. And, there will be a few young runners who joined me five years ago, and then went on to discover what running meant to them personally.
Together, we'll run through June, July and August and later celebrate as the discipline of summer grows to become the promise of fall.

Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to high school and adult runners of all levels. Contact Dave at dpgflyingfeet@aol.com.