As we all know, running is a discipline, yes, but it is also play time. Where I live close by we have a school that mostly has Korean students who are learning English here in the Philippines. Their ages are from elementary through High school and these are serious students as their parents are paying a lot of money to have the kids become fluent English speakers since it is a requirement for admission in Universities back home. Every morning, the students who are living in the schools dormitory hit the streets for their wake-up run and it is done in Military fashion. Well, I felt like I must change this so I started growling when I run up and down our safe quarter of a mile long street. I often run 7 times down the street and 7 times up the street lined with beautiful trees and other nice scenery for a leisurely three and a half mile run. So I am running towards and then along side of the Korean students and high five them and playfully pet their heads and growl like a wolf to get them to have fun. They think I am a nut, but after me persistently trying to take them out of their shell, they caved in and started having fun.
Of course there are those days we run and want to be in our own peaceful world which usually changes towards the end of our runs where we already feel great and then become more social to other runners and people on the street. The point is whether we are twenty years or eighty years old, running is also for fun and therefore is play time, so please have fun!
I was running with a friend in a State Park in Maryland in the later 70’s. He was not a runner but a brave soul that was game for anything. During the run which was less than 50% of my normal speed so Dick Herman could stay with me, nature called. Not a good thing for a runner especially when it comes to a number two-er. Well no choice but to go to an isolated area in the woods and do my thing. No choice but to use the leaves available to me to do what needed to be done. When the nasty deed was done i emerged on the road and instinctively beat on my chest and let out a loud beastly bear growl. Dick immediately followed with a reciprocal growl which was easy for him as he looks like a big bear.
That tradition continues to today, Dick in his early sixties and me in my mid fifties. One day Dick and i decided that the local cemetery was a perfect place for the run. In this case the contour is somewhat circular so i was running and passing by Dick and running my normal pace. Something did not seem right on one of my laps when i did not see Dick but I kept going. Well around the turn Dick jumps out from behind a headstone with the growl in full force and scares the living daylights out of me. A women who was in the area sees Dick with his shirtless hairy chest beating on his chest with full force. Poor woman runs to her car a few feet away and takes off in what seemed like horrible fear.
I use to run with a girl friend down a back trail in a wooded California area just north of Malibu beach. One day i decided to stop and drop my draws and continue to run. Patti could not stop laughing. Every time i did this trail with her, I’d drop my draws, a symbolism of immaturity as it was. I got caught one time by an unusual on coming hiker. We rarely ever saw anyone on this isolated trail.
There are times you feel the aches and pains and your breathing is heavy and things just do not seem right. Then you continue to struggle and at some point find your rhythm, but nevertheless it is not your day. When the run is finished, you are darned happy you got through it. We all know there are days to back off from a long run or hard run. True dedicated runners though run through pain and will not stop and quiet during their workout as quitting is considered a defeat by us die-hards. I have never stopped one run in more than 5 years. I have taken spills where I was bleeding and still finished my run. I ran in intense typhoons and was thrilled I was out there. I have had the common stitches/cramps and still ran through. I even got nailed by a snowball as the result of a Mac truck speeding by and its tires sent the snow at my head where I saw stars for a period of time but ran through the initial pain and shock.
The point being is that the discipline and will power to never quiet leads to the feeling of empowerment. If I can get through these difficult and at times painful runs, this empowers me with major feelings of accomplishment and this carries over to every aspect of life which truly means the feeling of personal freedom.