The first day of school has always represented, for me, a fresh start. There is something about the new backpacks, sharpened pencils, and shiny lunch boxes that just makes me feel refreshed, recharged, and renewed. It also makes me think about the cycle of renewal that running provides for me.
Like the start of school, my daily dose of running requires me to push the reset button. Each day brings a different challenge and a different opportunity. As students adjust each year to new schedules, new teachers, and new friends, so do we runners adjust to the changes in our bodies, our minds, and our hearts.
I find, at this time of year in particular, when the days get shorter and my motivation wanes a bit, that the daily renewal that running provides can have an impact on me far beyond the physical. I can think of many examples of this phenomenon but let me share this one:
Just this past Monday I laced ’em up in the predawn, strapped on my headlamp, and headed out the door. During the course of the first mile my mind was racing with plans for the day, thoughts about things I’d forgotten to do, and worries about issues at work. Gradually, as my breathing settled, my mind did too. As I crested the hill by Blenheim Winery at mile three I was thinking ahead. Just like that, my mind had moved from the past and into the future. The blend of physical exertion and mental relaxation gave me the space and stillness to grow and seek. I was renewing myself.
I hit my usual turnaround spot at the four-mile mark and began to push the pace a little. For a moment I thought about the soreness in my legs and the slight twinge in my calf but that was quickly superseded by a seemingly overwhelming feeling of hope–hope for my day, my week, my year, my life.
How is it that daily running, like the first day of school, can bring me such hope and allow me to be renewed day after day? Perhaps it is the simple act itself that cleanses the old and welcomes in the new. Or, possibly it’s the way our bodies and minds are wired to work: at times in opposition to one another but more often gravitating toward harmony. Can it be that something so simple, so primal, so fundamental, can open us up to the core of our being?
In the end, I guess I am not sure. But, what I am sure of is that running and renewal are inextricably linked for me. In fact, I can’t imagine the one without the other. And thus, the next time I find myself facing a challenging crossroad or addressing a troubling moment, I will in all likelihood strap on my shoes, scan my eyes to the horizon, and have myself another hope-filled first day of school.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
I have had guest reviewers these past few weeks so I thought it was time for me to offer up a new brew. This week’s Beer of the Week comes from a great brewery up in Greensboro, Vermont called Hill Farmstead Brewery that has quietly been rated the country’s best brewery. All the beers there are named after Hill Family ancestors and I had the opportunity to visit the brewery earlier in the summer and had a chance to drink the Arthur. This Saison has a very simple, smooth taste that seems to get better with each sip. The finish is not at all bitter and it’s the kind of beer that goes great with food. Next time you’re up in the Northeast Kingdom be sure to make a trip out to Hill Farmstead, and don’t forget cash. :)
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
When and how has running brought renewal? Can you share a story, like AJW, about the specifics of a run that got you to that renewed place?