Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Run and Don't Look Back

Not long ago, I visited a podiatrist.  My primary care doctor had referred me for a problem I was having with my foot and ankle.  At the end of the visit, the doctor recommended that I stop running.

Prior to the visit, I had not been running very much due to the pain, but his insistence that I stop doing something that I had been doing since I was nine years old; something that was ingrained in my existence; something that I equated with breathing and being, struck me the wrong way.  He seemed oblivious to what he was asking me to do.  When I told him as much, he did not blink an eye, saying only that he was surprised that I had been able to run as long as I had.  "We get old," he said, "things fall apart."

On top of this, he told me about a surgery that would probably take care of the problem but would result in me never being able to run again.

"Just give me the word and I will set it up", he said.  I never gave him the word..

I left his office thinking about Satchel Paige.

Satchel Paige was a major league pitcher who was elected to the Baseball Hall of fame in 1971 and was the first player to be inducted based primarily upon his play in the Negro leagues. 

 He was the oldest rookie to play in the Major Leagues at the age of 42. He pitched his last game in 1966 for the Carolina Leagues's Peninsula Grays at the age of 60, although some say he was older.

Maybe more famous than his pitching were his rules for staying young, which were:  

1.  Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.
2.  If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
3.  Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
4.  Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society- the social ramble ain't restful.
5.  Avoid running at all times.
6.  And don't look back- something might be gaining on you.

I believe that Paige was right on the money with all of his rules with the exception of number 5.  If I was given the opportunity to rewrite it, my rule number 5 would read as follows: 

Run whenever you get the chance.  Run when the sun is shining.  Run when the sky is filled with clouds.  Run when the rain is pouring down.  Run whenever it snows. 

Run when you are happy, but especially when you are sad.  

Run and be filled with the wonder of things.  

Run and listen to your thoughts.  Run and feel the movement of your body.  Run until you get that feeling of power and energy and you begin to believe that everything is possible.  

Run to learn about the world around you and the people in it.  Run to learn about yourself.  Run to meditate and to turn inward.  

Run to feel the wind in your face. Run in the hot stillness of a summer afternoon.  Run to the buzzing rhythm of cicadas.  

Run to leave it all behind.

Run to feel the quiet, still peace that comes after the run.

Run; against all rules and despite all rules; run.  No matter how old or worn out you are; run; for as long as you can, for as far as you can, for as fast as you can; run.

And don't look back.

My next race will be the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  I will send my podiatrist a picture of me at the finish line.

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