For the second time this week, I took advantage of the above normal temperatures, blue skies, and enough daylight to get in a long trail run after work.  I couldn’t wait to hit the trails, which is why I was so frustrated that my run nearly ended as soon as it began.  I had not even been on the trails for five minutes, when I realized that I had aggravated my right hamstring.  Suddenly, I felt a tight, painful sensation that worsened with every step I took.

As I stopped and stretched my aching muscle, silently imploring it to let me complete my run in peace, I began to weigh my options.  I could simply retreat to the car and head back home.  I could walk the trails, instead of run them.  Or I could figure out how to safely run without causing further injury.  For the next few minutes, I ran, walked, and stretched, all the while, my mind was racing, trying to figure out what to do.

I really wanted to run, especially since there will not be too many days like this one that will afford me the opportunity to run the trails after work, and I did not want to squander this chance.  It definitely was not one of the harder decisions that I have been forced to make, but I had to decide what to do.  As I was mired in indecision, a quote entered my mind, and that quote is what made up my mind actually.

Six years ago, I spent countless hours running these trails, in what I refer to as my summer of discontent.  I was running from myself, my life, and the anxiety and depression that consumed me, and at the same time, I was aimlessly running toward something.  I ran for my life, and I left a trail of tears behind me on most of those runs that summer.

During those runs, there was one quote, in particular, that would accompany me.  One of my college friends shared it with me when my world imploded, trying to get me to fight for my life and my sanity, and it became a mantra for me.  Today, as I debated whether to run through the pain or give in to it, that quote rejoined me in the middle of the woods, like an old friend.  Rumble, young man, rumble!

Those words were spoken by the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali, and they have often been repeated by me over the years. Ali and I share the same hometown, but I lack Ali’s swagger and boxing finesse, among many other things.  But those words, his words, are the ones that show up when I need to rise to the challenge, instead of run from it.  Whether it is something as simple as finishing a hard workout or as difficult as facing my greatest fears, those are the words that have become my battle cry of sorts.

As soon as I made the decision to finish the run, emboldened by Ali’s words, I no longer focused on the pain, as I shifted my attention to that quote, the music my iPod was serving up, and the beautiful surroundings.  I would love to say that I was spontaneously and miraculously healed, but as I write this, my hamstring is reminding me that it needs some time to heal.

What did happen was that I was reminded that when I dig deep and rumble, I am capable of far more than I think I am, and that the only way to find out if I can do something is to take a chance and do it.  Too often I doubt myself or over think a situation, and I am left with missed opportunities and regrets.  Not today, though, as I had no regrets.  None.

Was it the greatest trail run of all time? Not even close, although I would argue that there is no such thing as a bad trail run.  Was the greatest trail run that I could do on this day?  Absolutely and then some!  Some days, being the greatest of all time simply means being the greatest in a given moment, and sometimes, all you need is that one moment of greatness.  For today, for me, that was more than enough.

That’s another story . . .

Categories: That's Another Story

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