Over this past Christmas break I visited Colorado. Being from Indiana, it was like visiting a dream world. Seeing a culture that I could adopt as my own or even live among, it was spectacular. I was awestruck by the mountains and their almost seductive trance they had me in. Sharing this experience in the mile high city, it was unforgettable.
“When you go up in those mountains, bring some extra oxygen with you.” I felt people were jokingly telling me these things. In actuality, the change in altitude didn’t affect me until we were ON the mountains.
I began running two summers ago training for the Marine Corps Officer program PLC. I had never truly ran prior to my time in college. Baseball had been a big part of my life in my younger years. Let’s be honest, you don’t have to be in shape to play baseball. Running is not a big part of that sport and never will be. I began cycling at the age of 16. my average ride would be 35-40 miles per day. This is a rewarding and great sport. If you haven’t, cycle throughout a rural area of your hometown. It’s an adventurous and liberating experience.
As I began running, I noticed I gained a new focus in everything. From what I did on a professional level to my relationships with friends. It offered me a way to channel my thoughts and be free. With time, the physical benefits came without disappointment. Running is an unrestrained freedom.
I like to think of running with someone on the same level as catching a cup of coffee. They break down the walls, and the two of you can converse on anything. Initially, I HATED running. I despised it. It was painful, exhausting and tiring. I mean what’s attractive about that? 5:00 am, every morning all summer doing this? It was painstaking, but I pulled through and focused on what I wanted with the help of my dear friend Alicia. Having a person to run with, at least in the beginning, will make a difference ten times over.
It was weird. The whole running thing. “What’s this Runner’s high?” I asked myself. The day I hit my first runners high, it was comparable to having laughing gas for the first time at the dentist. I LOVED IT. Then I had to learn the etiquette of runners. Things like, cars hurt, if a dog is chasing you it’s probably not happy. But on a serious note. I had to learn how to run. I thought you just ran. However, there is a specific way your feet should first hit and leave the ground. The way your feet roll from toe to heel. It was a big learning experience for me mentally and physically. This was when I understood the concept of listening to my body. My legs, like the rest of my body, will tell me without hesitation if I’ve done something to upset them during the week.
Vail, Colorado. Elevation 9,000 feet. We were snow shoeing on the “Ice Climbers” trail. It really hit me after being on this particular trail for 3 minutes. I was breathing as if I had been doing a hasty jog around campus. I thought to myself, “This is odd. I’m just walking up the side of the mountain, no big deal.”
But it was a big deal, my body was not acclimated to the altitude. If I had not been in good shape from running, I’m unsure how I would’ve ventured on the mountain. I’d recommend that no normal Joe should go in the mountains without doing cardio.
I can happily say, running has improved my life in all aspects and that it’s capacity to improve yours is limitless. I encourage you make it a integral part of your life and continue to spread the motivation to others 🙂
Your source of endless motivation- Ryan