I was introduced to running over 20 years ago. My parents were avid runners and I’d ride my bike alongside them during their training routes. I remember thinking every time I went with them that it was the longest bike ride I’d ever been on. It seemed to go on forever and we seemed so far away from home. Most times, I was equally worried we were lost as I was excited to go on another adventure. Years later, I’d find out the furthest we’d ever gone on a single run was less than 10 miles. Clearly, at that age, my world didn’t span much further than that small suburb in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
In my 20s, I had a dream job any supporter of this sport would appreciate. I was paid to represent a major car brand and travel the country attending professional endurance races. The Boston Marathon, The New York City Marathon, and even The Ironman Championship in Kona were a few I had the privilege of attending. I witnessed recently-retired Meb Keflezighi win the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston, Mirinda Carfrae shatter the marathon record and break the tape in Hawaii, and was cheering on the runners just a mile away from the finish line of the Boston Marathon on that devastating Patriot’s Day in 2013.
There are a number of values associated with running. It demands you to use every muscle of your body from start to finish. There are no breaks, there are no timeouts, and there sure as hell aren’t any substitutions. The thought of race day keeps every committed runner honest; the course will know if you didn’t put in the time and nutrition in the previous months leading to the starting line. Ask any professional runner and everything they do from training to race day has a calculated purpose. Time management, grit, endurance, and keeping a long term focus are all attributes I can thank the sport for that have carried directly over into my professional career. Wanting to make a living building early-stage companies has been anything but easy over the past decade. Keeping at my craft, continuing to sharpen the saw in what I can provide both the company and my colleagues, has allowed me the opportunities to do exactly what I've always wanted.
It’s a sport that, for those not participating, is tough to watch. It’s a group of people doing the same motion continuously for hours on end. It’s takes a certain appreciation, as to master any skill, in doing the same thing repetitively until one is completely fluent in the art. Until it’s just right that it comes to you as natural as breathing; your mind orchestrating your body until it becomes completely in tune with the motions.
More than anything, the running community is what continues to keep me motivated in pushing my personal boundaries. It does not matter how fast or slow, or how long or short any runner’s workouts may be. It does not matter if you’re tying your shoes for your first run or you were a Division I runner in college. We all show up and ultimately participate in this sport for the same reason, to prove to ourselves that the little voice inside of our heads that has been telling us we can’t do this, is wrong. That its been lying to us this entire time. When we come together, and we support one another in our pursuit of being the best versions of ourselves, is when we begin to realize we’re capable of anything.
Editor's Note: I was recently asked to share my running experiences with the Million Miles running group based in Palo Alto, CA.