Today we celebrate our independence. As I think about our Founding Fathers, they were a bunch of free thinking, independent radicals. They were true individuals and creative types that went against the grain, challenged the norm and did so without fear or trepidation. They overcame great odds on shear will power and determination.
When I think about runners, we're an independent lot ourselves. In many ways, we parallel the likes of Ben Franklin, John Hancock and the other 54 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Are we radical? Absolutely! I'm sure drivers pass us on our routes everyday wondering why we bother with this ridiculous quest and activity. They think things like: "Why not take a car?" "Why work out? You're gonna die anyway." And many other such thoughts.
Do we overcome great odds on shear will power and determination? You bet. Sometimes it's unbearable heat. Other times it's the rain or brutal cold and gusts of cutting wind. And still other times, those things we overcome are less obvious to those around us. While most folks can see and feel the outdoor elements, they can't feel the sensation of a heal spur, shin splint or tight hamstring. They can't imagine the fatigue of the last mile accompanied by a stomach or muscle cramp. They'll never know the will power it takes to keep going when you're too tired, too cold, too hot or just in too much pain but you finish anyway.
Are we independent? Yep. This isn't a team sport. While many times we enjoy the camaraderie and company of our fellow joggers, most times we are out there by ourselves logging the miles. Even my golfing friends that play just to compete against themselves most often play in a foursome. Their time is made easier with companionship and mutual commiseration over that last bogie (not to mention a possible adult beverage as they play). We don't have that luxury on our 4 hour quests to beat our last time. It's just us against our last best time.
Are we free thinking and creative? You betcha. You wouldn't believe the circus that takes place in my imaginarium while I'm running. I solve world problems. I hold both sides of several conversations that never have happened or will ever happen. I talk to myself. I encourage myself. I calculate time, distance and mph. I keep a running score of the number of runners I pass and subtract the number that pass me. (It's a game I've played for years. I get 5 points if I pass a biker or segway.)
I've told a good friend that I do my best thinking and get my worst ideas when I'm running. Call me crazy. All runners play some sort of mental mind game to get thru the grind. The only difference between your circus and mine is that I'm putting mine out here on the world wide internet today.
Do we go against the grain, challenge the norm and do so without fear or trepidation? Enough said. How many times has a friend, spouse or loved one asked you: Do you really have to go out in this weather to run? " "Can't you let it go just one day? You just had spleen surgery yesterday." We've all heard it.
So what's the point of all this? It's a little pep talk. Be proud of what you do. Take pride in a job well done. Have a little extra swagger in your run knowing that you have the stick-to-it-ive-ness to go out there every day against the odds and the elements to train for the ultimate runners competition. Feel good knowing that you motivated yourself to get out there and get it done.
Ok, enough comparisons to us and the true heros of our country. Enough patting you on the back. Just know that if one of us had been there back in 1776 we might have an entirely different document that would provide all Americans with certain unalienable rights, that include Life, Liberty and the pursuit of marathons.