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The Path of Least Resistance…A Runners Tale!

By Stephen C. Schultz

I recently attended the Small Boarding School Association conference (SBSA) in Asheville, NC. It was held at a beautiful location, on the campus of Christ School. I was traveling with Brent Hall, the Executive Director of Discovery Academy; a small clinical boarding school for bright under-achievers.

When traveling, it’s often difficult to eat healthy. I’ve been traveling quite a bit… On this particular trip I noticed Brent was making an effort to eat healthy, and he had noticeably lost some weight over the last month or so. His commitment, self discipline and determination not only impressed me…but inspired me!

We returned home late on a Friday evening and I got up the next morning, put on my shorts and went to the track over at our local High School.

My goal; walk a lap to warm up. Then run a lap, then walk a lap, then run a lap, then walk a lap to cool down. This should be good for starters. The days of running a couple miles on a whim are long gone!

Off I go at a brisk walking pace. Half way around the track in front of me is the proverbial “old guy” shuffle walking with his oversized head set and walkman, listening to News Radio so loud, I can hear it.

The second lap, I start to jog, slow at first, but feeling good. My knees are little wobbly, not used to the jarring of 200+ lbs crashing down on them. But, my muscles do adapt and I get in a steady rhythm. I make it around the track, winded, but feeling good.

The third lap is a “walk lap”…heart racing, deep breaths with a burn in my legs that was familiar 20 years ago.

Now, the fourth lap, my second run lap approaches. I take off in a jog, a bit quicker than last time, feeling good about my effort. I’m in a nice pace, easy rhythm, controlled breathing…then half way; I “hit the wall”! What…the wall…you’ve got to be kidding me!

I start saying to myself;

“Oh…it’s ok, this is your first effort. You can walk the rest of the way. You’ve done well, better than expected.”

“NO…you have to keep going…push on, push on…there’s the old guy up ahead, just get past him!”

So, I pass the old guy, going away in style, putting some distance between him and me. I look ahead now and it’s the last 50 yards.

I’m thinking;

“You passed the old guy…just walk the rest of the way.”

“NO…I have to push on!”

“Just stop short of the finish line and walk across.”

“NO… you have to push through the finish line!”

I kept the pace with this battle going on in my head as I ran across the finish line! OK, now the last lap was a walk lap, the cool down lap…I did it!

I was sitting in my car thinking about my experience and started laughing. (It was either laugh or cry!) My big accomplishment of the day was to pass the “old guy” and talk to myself like I was running a freaking marathon!

My mind drifted to our experiences in life. How often do we have goals in life or things we hope to accomplish? Then, without warning, we start to talk ourselves out of it when it becomes difficult. Why? Why do we second guess ourselves? Why do we naturally gravitate towards the “path of least resistance”? I don’t know.

I do know that it felt good at the track! It felt good to make a goal, stick to it and overcome the “demons” that try to make you come up short! I think I’ll hit the track some more this week…and see if I can’t battle some more of life’s demons!


barbie said…
I love your writing, and especially your complete honesty!You make me laugh all the time! Thank you! Good luck on your goal to get into shape!!
Thanks for your kind words Barbie. I appreciate you taking the time to not only read this crazy stuff, but post a comment! :)
Unknown said…
another fantastic story. I am getting myself ready for spring running... I may be able to pass the cows by then... thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks so much Tracy! Running on a ranch often provides obstacles not often encountered by running elsewhere...cow-pies comes to mind. :-)
David said…
Love it! Our mutual friend, Brent, and I have put in many a pleasant lap together. Nothing better than having a running buddy.

Glad you sent this.


Thanks so much David! I appreciate the comment. I'll forward the article to Brent, he will probably get a kick out of reading it!

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