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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Plodding Forward and Starting Much too Fast

I started running again this week. Whew! It's funny, but when you laze around for eight months it's actually hard to get back into the flow of running. Go figure! Personally, I'm stunned.

I started the running week with an ambitious 55 minute run. Today's modest 37 minute run wasn't bad either. But when you're running for an extended period of time you don't have much to do except think and ponder over the mysteries of the universe. Which is lucky for you all because that's pretty much what I do here at Stronger Coffee.

We do so many things in our lives just so that we can feel like we're part of something. We want to be a part of a group, a sport, an activity, a club. Running isn't like that. I run alone just so that I can be part of nothing for a moment in time. For a singular span of minutes I can be simply a part of me and a part of the cement and a part of my shoes and the trail and my own sweat. I don't have to be one with a million other things that are vying for my attention. All I have to do is run.

It starts easy. It's always easy at the beginning (and that's true for everything, not just running). And I always start off much too fast. The strides are easy and the air is moving, seemingly of its own accord, in and out of my lungs. I am filled with the desire to move and there is a freedom - a sense of flight, even - to that movement.

Fast forward a few miles. I'm still moving with relative ease, but that sense of flight has all but flown out the window (pardon the pun). The air around me feels a little less inviting as it enters my lungs and there is a slight pain blooming in my side.

Fast forward a few more miles. The pain in my side has blossomed in all of its thorny glory. I keep running, breathing deeply, hoping to draw it right out on a gust of respiration. My breath is pouring now - in, out, in, out, in, out. The movement of my feet has gone from light touches on the cement to a thump, thump, thump. I'm plodding forward.

The strangest thing about that moment, for me anyways, is that, no matter how much it may hurt, walking is the most alien option of all. You don't want to stop. You can't stop. The very thought of stopping and walking along the trail makes you want to laugh. So you keep running, faster sometimes.

Fast forward to the last few miles. The pain in my side has either lightened or my mind has hardened. I'm still aware of it, stinging and aching. But it doesn't hurt me anymore. I feel it, but the feeling is disconnected. It's something known about but not experienced. Breathing has gone from a need to an inconvenience to a non-factor. Fatigue is waiting with each step, but it doesn't threaten my forward progress. I've shut down my body's STOP signals. Or, at least, I've stopped listening.

Like a good pot of java, your body's strong enough to take on any afternoon slump.

And, tomorrow, I'm running to Starbucks.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.


  1. Hey Michael,
    Isn't that like everything in life. You tend to start out strong-everything is so exciting, you have so much energy--then the reality sets in (or should I say you realize you now have to do the hard work without that initial energy burst.) But if you keep at it, you get a "second wind" that gives you what you need to finish what you started. I have seen just what ytou described while running in about every hard thing I've ever done in life. Thank you for reminding me to keep going until the "runner's high" kicks in! Keep on blogging Michael. Loving it :)