Go out and explore
As a high school coach, I have the privilege of being part of a running camp in Estes Park, Colorado. A week from now I am sure I will have some new insight into the art of coaching, but simply packing for this trip reminds me of how I started this journey in the first place.
The summer before my Freshman year of high school I had a choice. I could either go to the overnight basketball camp that I had always gone to or I could go to the overnight running camp I had never been to. As someone who still identified as a basketball player, the choice was clear. However, the rest of my high school cross country team was going to the running camp. Fortunately, the choice wasn’t really mine to make (despite having the head coach of the basketball camp ask my parents to let me go to his camp) and I wound up in Brevard, North Carolina with a dozen other scrawny runners from my school. I didn’t want to go, not because I disliked running, but because basketball was familiar.
That week changed the trajectory of my life in a way that few others have. I showed up at camp with baggy basketball shorts, an oversized shirt with the Air Jordan logo on it, and a semi-bad attitude. I walked away calling myself a runner and deciding I was going to sign up for a half marathon.
Until this camp, running was something I did to stay in shape for basketball. It was conditioning. Sure there were endorphins and a moderate amount of talent made it occasionally enjoyable, but it wasn’t necessarily something I looked forward to. But Brevard showed me that running didn’t have to be on the concrete metropolis of Orlando, it could be in the wilderness of the Appalachian mountains. It could bring you to places that could take your breath away (and not just from going anaerobic). It showed me that running was a way to explore your surroundings and even explore and deepen your relationships. You get to know someone pretty well on a 10 mile run, especially if you think you might be lost in the woods.
Occasionally, I forget this lesson and training becomes a grind, an ends to a mean of race day performance. I’m thankful for trips like this to remind me that each and every day is a gift and we are capable of exploring the world if we only have the courage to let go of what’s comfortable and familiar.