“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
The first training run I ever completed for a race was on a treadmill. It was a late January day almost five years ago. I struggled to finish one and a half miles. Then I died. Lungs burning, mouth parched, I had just accomplished some sort of record feat that would go down in the annals of running. Only that could explain the soreness from that little jog that would last for days. I was doomed. If I was swept away that day, it was to a couch. What the hell had I gotten myself into?
I love journeys, have all my life. Where Bilbo Baggins sees danger (though I suspect only with less terror than he lets on), I am intrigued the possibilities of the archetypal journey, the promise of growth and change amidst unpredictable circumstances. I have come to love running because on any given day, a journey can and does occur. Obstacles are encountered. Sometimes they are defeated, sometimes they are not and one stalls, trying to find a new way to overcome the challenge. But always, one moves forward, one step at a time, sometimes striding lightly without effort, sometimes almost crawling, step-by-step over the mountain. But always forward.
Forward is the direction I moved after that January run, eventually. I trained sporadically, with little structure, doing so only because a girl had asked me to. But I trained. Always forward. And then, on race day, something magical happened, a life-changing euphoria washed over me as I crossed my first finish line, the end of my first running journey. I fell in love with running. I sat amongst throngs of enthusiastic supporters, helpful volunteers, and exhausted but smiling runners and I fell head over heels in love with running. From that day forward I would not, I could not, look back to a day when I was not a runner.
Almost five years have elapsed now and my running journey has gone uphill and down. I have set PR’s and missed almost an entire year to injury. I have shared my love of running with others and even convinced one or two to race. I have seen the habits I have developed from running trickle into other, unrelated parts of my life. And when things have truly gotten dark at times in my life, my running goals have maintained a small but determined fire that has kept me moving forward.
My goal here is simple: to help my readers become better runners by sharing my insights, my stories, and my stumbles. I am an average guy who has learned how to run because others have shared their experiences as I now will. My racing, my fitness, my nutrition, and my enjoyment of the sport have all been enhanced because running is a community, one blessed with many who are willing and eager to take the time to share what works and, perhaps with even more courage, share what doesn’t. This space will be a small addition to their work.
And so I welcome you to my little rest stop on life’s great marathon course. Hopefully I have a little to teach you about running, and I look forward to you sharing your experiences with me as well. Until then I’m back out my door to see where running may sweep me off to.
Remember, forward, always forward.