Running & Running

running and running 2

Running & Running

by  Patrick Reed

You’ve been there, no doubt. We runners have all been there. Out on the interminable roads, the horizon a heartbreak away — endless vistas, scorching (or frozen, wind-swept) weather … and we keep running and running. What else can we do when we find ourselves alone on the course? This is what we do. We keep running and running.

In his masterful 9th chapter in Running & Being entitled “Running,” Dr. George Sheehan talks about the daily run as ritual. But not rote ritual. Rather, he calls it a daily rebirth – every day a fresh baptism. Each run is a blissful remembrance of the gift of life itself. Sheehan calls us to esteem the day’s run and to drink it in and to recognize its grace.

And Dr. Sheehan writes of how we run as true beginners each day — and he opines that the closer we get to knowing the true value of each unique run, the more innocently we come to it as a true beginner. After all, the child, the doctor argues rightly, runs excellently without instruction – and without the blinders of the world which ever critique and contort her form and fit her into its one-size-fits-all mold. Oblivious to all and no doubt ready to push away any such silliness which assaults her, the child glides sweetly through space, barefoot in the grass, towards the sparkling and whirling fountain of her youth. She is already full of the grace, itself, which we as aged runners only try ever-imperfectly to grasp. It makes sense. We are fallen.

But the child cannot hold innocence to maturity — and so we can no longer reach out and purchase the day’s baptism. It is no longer free and it’s not for sale. To cheapen it thus is to evaporate its innate nectar.

But we keep running and running. And run we must. For it is what we do...

running and running

…At mile 2 in the 5K or 22 in the marathon, we keep running and running. We think about and fear  faltering. Sometimes we even seem to wish to fall. An end to the pain is the temptation. Yet still we keep running and running…

I felt this way 5 days ago as the asphalt course pivoted unceremoniously into the wind – and still I had 10 kilometers to run in the marathon. No crowds urged me on and no victory pulled me forth with its magnetic elixir. No, I was adrift and anonymous. I was the fallen man. If only I could find a way to tap into Sheehan’s simple genius-insight that I am again a child, running for the first time. Then, it is all play. But the course winds and the wind pulls and drags me back, and my parched soul weakens. And still I run and run.

And the truth is that this race is finite, and if I can continue the struggle then I do sneak closer to what may be a magnetism after all. As I struggle forth, I find that I am reborn! Now broken down to my limits, I have no direction to lean towards but newness. In the struggle I become blinded to what I am supposed to be, to how I am supposed to run. And I find myself, all of the sudden, as if out of a cloud – surprised – gliding sweetly through space, barefoot in the grass, towards the sparkling, whirling fountain of my youth.

Keep running and running,

~Coach Patrick

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