2 – Running Thoughts

Philosophical musings learned on the road.

On The Road To Peace

A short story written in 1959 and made into a feature film three years later bears the title “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner.” While I admire author Alan Stillitoe’s accomplishment, I feel certain that he himself didn’t take part in the sport. If he had, he would have known that loneliness is not at all a concern.

Running can be a very social activity. Deep friendships are formed through conversations covering every topic imaginable during miles together. (See my article, “Runner’s Hi.”)

There’s also a positive flip side for days when the athlete prefers to go it alone. Solitude. Blessed solitude. Rare, welcomed, rejuvenating, even restful, solitude.

Years before I hit the streets myself, I’d ask runners “What on earth do you think about? It must be so boring!” Now I know. The privacy provides a long list of blessings.

Many of my best business ideas have popped up during runs. The needs of friends and family, which could have gone unnoticed, come to mind. Words of thanks or encouragement to be shared later, chess moves, the location of misplaced items, prayers, strategies and tactics for self development … these have all been byproducts of solo time on the road.

Then there are the lost miles, and I mean lost in a good sense. It happens when the runner becomes suddenly conscious that he or she is at mile nine, and can’t remember anything since mile five. The bliss of temporary nothingness. It’s hard to explain, but anyone who’s trained for a half marathon or longer is letting out a wistful sigh right now.

In an age when “me time” is both rare and precious, running offers a solution. Hours of intentionally chosen isolation with few distractions. Peace. The ability to focus—on my breathing, life’s blessings and challenges, or nothing at all.

Loneliness? I respectfully disagree. But the solitude of the long distance runner … oh yeah.

Running Feels Great. Until It Doesn’t.

People sometimes ask me what it feels like to get out and run. My answer is simple. It feels absolutely tremendous, amazing, fantastic, and wonderful. Until it doesn’t. Then it stinks—big time. The secret that veteran runners have discovered is this: the highs make the lows worthwhile.

Admittedly, running is not for everyone. I fear, though, that many beginners give up on the sport too soon because of a few bad experiences early on. There’s an easy fix: Once it starts to get rough, stop.

When I took up running at the age of 52, a quarter mile was all I could muster. No problem. That’s where the walking began, either straight back home or around the two-mile loop circling my neighborhood. The short-ish distance didn’t diminish my sense of accomplishment one bit.

Gradually, the run portion increased, but I took it easy so I could finish the route smiling. Then came the day (I remember it well) when I decided to stretch my abilities. It was difficult, but I now knew from experience that there would be ecstasy at the finish. And my hope was that maybe next time I’d get a little further before it hurt.

That’s pretty much how it goes. A quarter mile becomes a half mile, then a mile or two, perhaps  eventually an official 5K while wearing a bib. Some go on to 10Ks, half marathons, full marathons, and even ultras. A common thread for all these folk is the mixture of dancing in the clouds and embracing the pain.

Running is one of the greatest feelings in the world … until it isn’t … and then it’s the pits. The newbie should stop and enjoy the victory before agony sets in. Those who’ve been around the block a few hundred times, however, have learned that tomorrow it might feel even worse. But that’s OK, because it will definitely feel even better–in fact, fantastic–as well.


Thoughts On The Run

Here are some thoughts that have popped into my head while I’m out on the streets. It’s easy to see how they relate to life, business, relationships, etc. That’s one of the many great things about running.

  • The pain of the effort is forgotten when the euphoria of accomplishing the goal kicks in.
  • If you just keep taking steps, you’ll get to your destination and your past gets further behind you.
  • It’s a lot easier when you’re with somebody than when you’re alone.
  • Ran my normal route, but in reverse. Lesson = A simple change can makes things seem easier. Churchill said “A change is as good as a rest.”
  • Realistic expectations & accomplishing the goal. That’s what it’s all about.
  • Thinking about how hard it might be is much worse than actually getting up and doing it.
  • You have to keep the finish line in mind. Once you can see it, you’re home free.
  • Small, regular improvements add up to significant long-range improvements.
  • A challenge can help you find energy you didn’t know you had. (In this case a dog that was not on a leash.)
  • There are always people more and less accomplished in any given endeavor. It is best to focus on strengths and not be discouraged or prideful.
  • Endurance is the result of endurance.

That’s it for now. I’m sure there will be more in the future.