The late Steve Prefontaine once said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Now the gift isn’t some kind of exclusive physical trait held by athletes or running fanatics. The gift is our ability to move. To propel ourselves forward to a place our feet have yet to land and our minds have yet to wander. Running is an act of liberation. A freeing of our thoughts; an unshackling of our spirit. And yet this simple act of placing one foot in front of the other ad infinitum is also a humbling experience. One that allows us to define and redefine our limitations through moments of failure.
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
It’s also physically enlightening. Like a sensory Shangri-la. You feel your heart beating faster, lungs filling and withdrawing air, strengthening and fatiguing your muscles. You have an acute sense of temperature – sweat inducing heat or chills from a cutting wind. You feel everything. The weightlessness of a fresh pair of shoes or the heavy drag of your worn and tired legs after battling a monster hill. And on occasion you transcend past that enlightened state where you’re overwhelmed with the physical and suddenly feel nothing and everything all at once. Now that’s heavy stuff. It’s like your mind separates from your body and all that’s left is this feel-good rush of air.
Certainly, it’s not everyone’s paradise and I’m not trying to paint some pretty picture of what it’s like for me to get out there and tear up some road. I’ve been known to curse that sonafabitch wind that always blows in my face no matter what direction I run and sometimes the physical is just too much or my mental is not enough. But I still run. I mean c’mon, even paradise can piss you off sometimes or you have those days you just don’t see the beauty. But those times are few and soon enough, without celebration I’m back in my motion-filled utopia. Like a hamster in a clear plastic ball running in the moment. Oblivious to what’s behind. Focused on what’s ahead. Thankful for the gift.