Running And Graduation Day

AJW talks about incorporating his running routine into his school’s graduation day.

By on June 3, 2016 | Comments

AJW's TaproomTomorrow I will preside over a high-school graduation for the 10th-straight year. For me, graduation day is always fun as it not only celebrates an important rite of passage in the lives of my students, but it also represents an important inflection point for their parents and families. It’s a day, for me, that is often filled with both laughter and tears. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not surprisingly, I have fallen into a graduation-day running routine over this last decade that both allows me to settle into the emotion of the day while also getting me into that place of reflective growth that only running can provide.

So tomorrow I’ll wake up before the sun. There’s no time to waste on graduation day. My graduation clothes will be in the car already and the coffee timer will be set. I’ll be in the car within minutes of waking up as the excitement of the day takes shape.

Since timing is usually an issue on such a highly scheduled day, I always go to my favorite trail system nearby school and just plan as long a run as I can manage while still getting to school in time to prep for all the festivities. In a typical year, that means a nice, two-hour run.

The wonderful thing is, that each year for the last 10, as I have settled into this run on this day, my mind has quickly drifted to the kids. I can see their younger faces, I can picture their parents dropping them off on the first day of school, I can even reflect back on the various sketchy discipline cases that invariably evolve in the life of a school. In all that, it is the run that allows me to become centered and focused on what will likely be one the most important days of the graduates’ young lives. It is the run that opens up my own opportunity for growth and allows me to become a graduate myself again.

And it is that part that I love so much about these graduation-day runs. Not because they are any better than any other run I have but rather they are runs that have context, history, and meaning. They are annual runs that give me the chance to dive down on what’s at hand and to think a bit more deeply about the past, present, and future. And, that’s all in the course of a two-hour run.

I am not sure if there is another outlet for energy and inspiration quite like running. If there is, I’d like to know what it is. For me, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, especially in the context of a major life event like a high-school graduation, is inspiration enough. But pile on top of that the intrinsic reward of a life spent on the run and one can’t help but think that not only does running make me a better person but it could also, by association, make the world a better place.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Rock Art Brewery Limited AccessThis week’s Beer of the Week is another Vermont selection. (Sorry, I can’t help it.) Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, Vermont makes a wonderfully balanced fruity DIPA called Limited Access. Weighing in at 7.5% and 75 IBUs, this Vermont DIPA really hits the sweet spot, in my opinion.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you have a graduation day coming up for yourself or your friends and family? If so, how do you incorporate your running routine into the day?
  • And how does the reflective nature of both a graduation and running play off each other for you?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.